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ADHD Discussion. Natural and Medical Treatments. Connect
ADHD Discussion. Natural and Medical Treatments. Connect

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America’s Epidemic of Psychiatric Over-Diagnosis

More and more people around you are being diagnosed with depression or ADHD, but is that an illusion? There is an epidemic in America, but it’s not an epidemic of psychiatric disorders—it’s an epidemic of over-diagnosis that’s making billions for pharmaceutical companies and the doctors prescribing these drugs.

We have convinced ourselves that we are a sick, troubled people, and the result has been endless, largely harmful prescriptions—and endless profits for the drug companies. (Matt Rourke/AP)

The next time you’re in a crowded room, look around. A scary percentage of the people in the room with you are suffering from a mental disorder.

Or at least that’s what we’ve been led to believe, that the United States has a crisis on its hands when it comes to mental illness. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the most recent edition of the bible for psychiatric diagnosis, offers up the current “official” view on what the establishment believes separates the normal from the disordered. Both it and its predecessors have received heaps of criticism for turning the everyday highs and lows of human experience into diseases.

In Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life, Allen Frances, a semi-retired psychiatrist who served as the chair of the task force behind the DSM-IV, uses the release of the DSM-5, the methodology behind which he calls “egregiously reckless,” as a springboard to offer up a stinging rebuke of the explosive rate of psychiatric diagnosis in the U.S.

According to Frances, the U.S. is experiencing a dangerous moment in which political and financial forces are pushing people to think of themselves as abnormal, and “the counterbalancing forces pushing normal don’t remotely counterbalance and aren’t nearly forceful enough.” In other words, there are many people who profit from the idea that a staggering proportion of Americans are mentally ill, and these groups are powerful, well organized, and politically effective. The argument that things aren’t that bad—that the hysteria over attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism is a bit overblown and not backed up by empirical literature—is much harder to make. Given a screeching demagogue and an evenhanded, mild-mannered technocrat, people will always be more drawn to the former.


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Mental Health Watchdog Applauds Vatican's Investigation Into Psychiatric Drugging of Children

The mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights applauds the Vatican for launching an investigation into the harmful effects of prescription psychiatric drugs. The conference brings together professionals to discuss the harmful consequences of overusing psychiatric drugs for treating mental and emotional disorders in children, as well as how a similar trend is hurting pregnant mothers.

Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) announces its support of the Vatican for looking into the harmful effects of psychiatric drugs on children in an article written by Kelly Patricia O'Meara.

On June 14-15, the Vatican is holding a conference, "The Child as a Person and as a Patient: Therapeutic Approaches Compared," in order to bring professionals together to discuss the harmful consequences of overusing prescription drugs for treating mental and emotional disorders in children, as well as how a similar trend is hurting pregnant mothers. The conference organizers hope to prove that “psychosocial options” are better than “psychotropic care,” and will focus on two main drug groups, antidepressants and antipsychotics.

One of the conference organizers, Dr. Barry Duncan, a clinical psychologist and director of the Heart and Soul of Change Project, has called for “religious orders, Catholic schools, hospitals, medical associations, media and parishes to become informed and help children and families discover alternatives to psychiatric medications, as well as help them have real input when discussing the risks and benefits of such medications.”


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How Ritalin Affects Brains of Kids With ADHD

FRIDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- Ritalin activates specific areas of the brain in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mimicking the brain activity of children without the condition, a new review says.

"This suggests that Ritalin does bring the brain [of a child with ADHD] back to the brain the typically developing kid has," said study author Constance Moore, associate director of the translational center for comparative neuroimaging at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Analyzing data from earlier studies that looked at how children's brains were affected by doing certain tasks that are sometimes challenging for kids with ADHD, the researchers found that Ritalin (methylphenidate) was having a visible impact on three areas of the brain known to be associated with ADHD: the cortex, the cerebellum and the basal ganglia.

The study could be helpful in diagnosing and treating children with ADHD, Moore said. "It may be helpful to know that in certain children, Ritalin is having a physiological effect in the areas of the brain involved with attention and impulse control," she said.

The research was published recently in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

Nine studies analyzed by the researchers used functional MRI to evaluate brain changes after children had taken a single dose of Ritalin. The children were involved in different types of tasks that tested their ability to focus and inhibit an impulse to act.

For example, to observe the brain's reaction during a test of what is called "inhibitory control," a child was told that every time he saw a zero show up on a screen, he should push the button on the right; every time he saw an X appear, he should push the left button. The children would then be asked to flip their responses, pushing the left button when they saw a zero.

"That's hard to do," Moore said, "because you've developed the habit [of pushing the other button], so you have to suppress your impulse. If you do 20 zeros and keep pressing and then you see an X, most kids with ADHD will hit the wrong button."

In three out of five of the inhibitory control studies, Ritalin at least partially normalized brain activation in ADHD children.

To note how the brain reacted to a selective attention test, Moore said, children would first be asked, for example, what word they were seeing. The word would be "red," and the color of the type also would be red. Then they would be shown the word "red," but the color of the type would be green. In several studies, Ritalin affected activation in the frontal lobes during such inhibitory control tasks.

Most of the studies included in the review were performed in the United States or the United Kingdom. The majority of participants were adolescent boys, and all studies compared their results to healthy children of the same approximate age.

Because none of the studies looked at the correlation between ADHD symptoms and whether the child was taking Ritalin, there is no way to link the changes in brain activation with clinical improvement, Moore said. "It's possible that kids who are not responsive to Ritalin may have brain changes too," she said.

ADHD affects between 3 percent and 7 percent of school-aged children in the United States, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Boys are more likely to have ADHD than girls.

One expert was not surprised by the results.

"The review article shows there is a consensus of well-designed imaging studies showing that [Ritalin] has an impact on the frontal cortex of the brain, where we have long believed these patients have issues," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park. Adesman wondered if Ritalin may play a role in helping the brain mature.

"Their data provides partial support for that," he said. "But if anything, the medicine seems to help the brain look more normal and doesn't seem to do anything bad to it."


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Kids on ADHD meds no more likely to abuse drugs later in life than unmedicated peers: study
Contrary to popular concern, a new analysis of previous scientific studies found children on drugs like Ritalin and Adderall showed no greater likelihood of abusing alcohol, nicotine and other drugs as adults.


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