The Bogus Disease Industry Is Booming

Imaginary diseases are easy to over-diagnose. The mental health field is chock full of imaginary diseases. How can it not be? The DSM, the psychiatrist label bible, is loaded with diseases that were voted into existence by committee. Two of these imaginary diseases are attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Bogus diseases also have bogus criteria for diagnosis. Science 2.0 has released a story with the blunt but true headline, You Knew This: ADD And ADHD Over-Diagnosed.

The researchers surveyed altogether 1,000 child and adolescent psychotherapists and psychiatrists across Germany. 473 participated in the study. They received one of four available case vignettes, and were asked to give a diagnoses and a recommendation for therapy. In three out of the four case vignettes, the described symptoms and circumstances did not fulfill ADHD criteria. Only one of the cases fulfilled ADHD criteria based strictly on the valid diagnostic criteria. In addition, the gender of the child was included as a variable resulting in eight different case vignettes. As the result, when comparing two identical cases with a different gender, the difference was clear: Leon has ADHD but Lea does not.

Not only are boys more likely to be perceived as “having it”, but male doctors are more likely to diagnose it than female doctors according to the same study.

It looks like the drug companies have found many ways to profit from this ADHD and ADD misdiagnosis racket though.

As media attention increased, ADHD diagnoses also became inflationary. Between 1989 and 2001, the number of diagnoses in German clinical practice increased by 381 percent. The costs for ADHD medication, such as for the performance-enhancer Methylphenidate, have increased 9 times between 1993 and 2003. The German health insurance company, Techniker, reports an increase of 30 percent in Methylphenidate prescriptions for its clients between the ages of 6 and 18. Similarly, the daily dosage has increased by 10 percent on average.

ADHD labeling has increased in the USA as well. The Daily Northwestern from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has a story on research conducted at that University, NU study finds ADHD diagnoses on the rise.

From 2000 to 2010, the total number of national ADHD cases among children under 18 increased by 66 percent, from 6.2 million to 10.4 million, the study found.

This same article harks back to the German study mentioned above.

Others, however, have hypothesized that doctors are overdiagnosing ADHD in children. In February, researchers from Germany published data in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology showing that 16.7 percent of 1,000 psychiatrists diagnosed ADHD in non-ADHD patients.

I would suspect that the actual figure is much higher. If ADHD is as I have concluded an imaginary disease then 100 % of these children don’t have ADHD. In such case, it follows that diagnosing even a single example of the disorder would be a matter of over-diagnosis.