ADHD Diagnoses Increased More Than 50 Percent in a Decade

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In 2011, eleven percent of school-age children had been diagnosed with ADHD That’s a sixteen percent more than in 2007 and 53 percent more than a decade ago, according to a New York Times analysis of new data from the Center for Disease Control.

This comes out to a grand total 6.4 million children in the US, up to 4 million of whom have prescriptions for Adderall, Ritalin, or other medication, a class of drugs that brings in an estimated $9 billion in sales annually. The Times found that boys, particularly teenage boys ages 14-17, have the highest rates of diagnosis, though no one knows why:

The New York Times

The director of the CDC told the New York Times that “The right medications for A.D.H.D., given to the right people, can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, misuse appears to be growing at an alarming rate.” The CDC estimates that we spend $31.6 billion annually in health care and work absence costs for children and adults with ADHD and their families.

Clearly, more and more kids are being diagnosed with ADHD. What the new study doesn’t tell us is whether more and more kids actually have it. Another recent CDC study, that both surveyed parents and screened children, suggested doctors are over-diagnosing ADHD in some kids while overlooking the condition in others. The survey, which focused on South Carolina and Oklahoma, found that of children taking ADHD medication, only 40 percent in South Carolina and 28 percent in Oklahoma actually met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

In other words, the current system for diagnosing kids with ADHD is probably not working very well. Meanwhile, as another recent story in the Times demonstrated, concerns over the potential side effects of ADHD medications—which can include addiction and anxiety—are mounting.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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