The diagnosis of ADHD has skyrocketed over the past few decades, causing a shortage in low-dose generic medications. A large percentage of people diagnosed with the disorder likely have no neurological problems at all, and the common diagnosis is likely because of sociological factors. Parents expect more from their children which causes children to need to focus more intently.
A study was done at Michigan State University to find a genetic basis of the disorder. Using both fraternal and identical twins, researchers concluded that traits of hyperactivity and inattentiveness are highly inheritable. There are different regions of the brain where ADHD genes affect neuronal circuitry, showing that there is a physiological feature of the disorder.
Although ADHD is physiological, many patients that have the medication do not have the disorder. Policies such as the Individuals With Disabilities Education act in 1991 and the Food and Drug Administration Act in 1997 allow drug companies to market to the public. The rates of diagnosis in eastern America are also higher than the rates in the western part of the country, giving more evidence of the sociological influences that cause ADHD diagnosis.
When President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, diagnoses began to skyrocket even more. The diagnosis is on the rise because the way our societies define disorder continues to change. Schools used to punish kids who wouldn’t sit still, but now schools support these children with medications and therapy. As Joel Nigg says in the article, “When people don’t fit in, we react by giving their behavior a label, either medicalizing, criminalizing it or moralizing it.”
Medications can hurt people as well as help them, and the increasing diagnosis of ADHD may do both.