Controversy in Diagnosis

Adult ADHD controversy

By Tammy Preston, MS

There are many people who believe that problems exist with the diagnosis and treatments of ADHD, with some even questioning the validity of the existence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a genuine medical disorder.  Some experts point out that it is easy to diagnose the disorder because the symptoms, such as attention and concentration problems, are very common. Also, the drugs that are commonly used are usually effective in treating only the symptoms, and this does not necessarily mean that the real problem has been addressed.

Attention and concentration problems can stem from many other things, including mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, and just general life situations such as bad relationships, poor sleep patterns, and problems around the home or work place.  With ADHD now recognized in adults, it makes it even harder to be totally sure of whether these problems are due to a disorder or are in fact related to other inherent problems in the life of the patient.  It is precisely because of the stressful and complex nature of adult lives in the modern world that it becomes possible for some people to question the existence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or at least to bring to attention it’s possible over diagnosis and miss treatment.

Some skeptics suggest that the diagnosis of ADHD is being stretched so that drug companies can sell even more behavior-modifying drugs.  Symptoms resembling ADHD were first described in 1845 by Dr Heinrich Hoffman, but they weren’t thought to be a problem back then when people were more likely to do manual jobs and less likely to notice any problems associated with concentration and mental focus.  This illustrates the skeptical viewpoint that perhaps looking at ADHD as a disorder is unproductive when it is perhaps best described as an inability to fit in with the norms of modern industrial society, a point even more valid when applied to an adult population who are relied on to produce goods and services for this society.


  1. Barbara R. Quijada says

    From the patient side, I only want to share my own story regarding the extensive damage delaying the medication cause. This article does not mention the amount of productive time lost between initial diagnosis, testing, factoring out the OTHER possible contributors first etc. Neither is there any mention about possible long term side effects, or permanent damage done with the Pharmacological equal of an overpriced Auto Mechanic’s “Throwing Parts” at you car. Now if you think I’m exaggerating, don’t. Timeline started with a Court ordered Psych. Eval. at the beginning of a custody battle over my 5yr old daughter. Diagnosis Severe Untreated ADHD emphasis on Hyper Impulseviness.? Can’t even find that last part in spell check or the dictionary.

    First step of course since I was an adult, they had to rule out drug abuse. A whole year of drug testing. Then another year of all these Psych Meds for depression, bipolar disorder, etc soup to nuts. Every single pill having severe side effects. And here I am almost 17yrs later having lost everything. . .still fighting to be properly medicated. Which will never happen now on Medi-cal. I cannot afford the 200-400 a month prescription.

    CA state will not cover it . And without it I AM EVERYWHERE, DRIVING EVERYONE AROUND ME NUTS TOO ! Oh did I forget the real fun part. WITHOUT IT I DONT SLEEP EITHER ! Neither do I lie cheat or steal. So having spent 2 & 1/2 yrs working as a PHARMACY TECH. I also understand the monetary gain.

    I hope to see 57 next year. And when I was a child there were no meds, Drs. just unruly children. I have been like this my whole life. Just thought I was lucky to be able to work 3-5 different jobs at the same time. It didn’t bother me as much growing up. Just embarrassing that I never studied, or went to school. Couldnt even read or understand what I’d tried to read. High Bs & lots of As & GED d out. Worked since I was 10yrs old.

    Ended up homeless here in Santa Barbara CA & last 2 yrs only contact with daughter is by cell. I’ve made sure she’s had one since she was 7. And all I ever dreamed of was maybe attending college with her. She informed me upon arrival of her tax return, she is purchasing a truck & joining the Marine Corps. She turned down the offer of my Durango 2yrs ago before it was impounded & sold. Stranding my Medical Alert Service Dog & I here.

    Secured a small studio here to have some repairs done. Guess I might have also left out in 2 yrs of being homeless & not PROPERLY medicated I’ve been attacked 7 times requiring extensive treatment that still has not begun. Tick tock Decided to try knocking off a couple prereq’s for transfer. The ADHD drove me nuts ! Had to withdraw anyway SBHA does not allow adults here to attend college full time. 6 units in the summer is considered full time. Cheap shot ! Especially with as hard as I worked to pull it off successfully. So there goes
    financial aid now too.

    Upon moving here I was enlightened as to just how twisted government control is now. Was not here a week before verbal altercation with a drunken, pain pilled neighbor above me. they took her to jail. And me to local emergencyroom where between 2-5 men were approaching me from behind holding me down while a nurse broke a dozen needles off into my flesh ! POST TRAUMATIC STRESS HELLO ! Told them.begged. 72 hrs then shipped out somewhere else for 30 DAYS

    Bottom line deal with Shrink was to shut up take his pills & be released 30 days later. At that meeting upon his grandiose display showboating his 160 degree improvement with HIS PILLS. I asked him to please hold that thought. Went to my room, retrieved a shirt full of HIS PILLS I HAD THROWN UP AFTER NURSE LEFT, AND DELIVERED THEM NEATLY ON HIS DESK. And calmly told him to release me NOW.

    These things will be addressed properly when I am ready. I AM A NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN UNDOCUMENTED WHICH IS PROBABLY THE ONLY REASON I AM STILL ALIVE SOMEWHAT. The OTHER offense by these PSYCH Animals was testing me without my permission for cancer. I TAKE CARE OF CANCER PATIENTS I SWEAR TO YOU MY OATH WAS TO NEVER TEST, OR TREAT. If God put it there that was my invitation to go Home. So having had finally read the box full of paperwork I avoided sure enough all these symptoms are popping out everywhere.

    Does it get any better I’ve been given a death sentence. Because I could not pay attention.

  2. Like many of u I went undiagnosed or unable to receive the right meds I was using street Meth for symptoms the last 6 months when my doctor told me wow those new meds I gave u must be working. I was arrested for possession when this happened I came clean to my doctor I wasn’t taking ur phlhysc meds for 6 months no-one had any idea I was using but everyone told how great I was doing . She started treating me 3yrs prior for other crap and I was also kicking Meth at the time she assumed I was an addict til she saw it herself.I was miserable the entire 3yrs she treated me sober and the fact that she still couldn’t tell I was using after 6months showed her I was only self medicating not abusing. She was also checking my ativan scripts to see how often I fill them which was 3weeks later than I could have,it all finally proved to her. I sucks that it took 2 arrests for possession who knows how much more time I will do for this charge not to mention I won’t be able to have adderall in prison. I can’t tell u if it was all worth it I’m staring at 7.5 yrs Max hopefully my midagating sircumstances will decrease my sentence alot. And who knows when I get out of prison there may be a whole new reason I can’t take stimulants. I hoping ghat after 38yrs of self medication and the law will finally get me some relief in my future

Speak Your Mind