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DSM ADHD Misdiagnosis

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is diagnosed mainly through a DSM-IV or ICD-10 checklist. If other tests are carried out, these two are the base for assessments.

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 4th revision) and the World Health Organization’s ICD-10 criteria are both descriptions of observable behavior. What makes a behavior a deficit and not a talent is the context, situation or cultural environment.

There are over 100 causes for ADD-ADHD like behavior. This implies that a person showing signs of ADD or ADHD symptoms does not necessarily have the same problem as the next person with similar symptoms.

Officially, according to the DSM-IV there is one disorder AD/HD with three subtypes. This continues in spite of the fact that there are so many causes. How many people who get diagnosed as ADHD have been through a checklist of other possible reasons for the symptoms?

This is possibly the most misdiagnosed condition today. The idea of one disorder with one treatment (medication) prevents a deeper understanding of the problem.

A child with convergence insufficiency, an eyesight defect characterized by an inability to focus, can be misdiagnosed as having ADHD. Putting that child on stimulant medication does nothing for the treatable eyesight condition.

A person allergic to certain food dyes suffers attention deficit. This is not ADHD, but it fulfils the diagnosis criteria for ADHD. This is where the debate over food dyes and ADHD gets bogged down. The behavior resulting from the allergy is typical ADHD, but even researchers have been unable to give clear answers, being stuck in the “disorder paradigm.”

The majority of people with ADD-ADHD have a least one and sometimes more than one additional psychiatric disorder including anxiety and depression. These coexisting conditions can result in similar behavior as described for ADHD. How much of the ADD-ADHD behavior is from AD/HD and how much is from the other condition? There is no test to answer that question.

We need to look at the ADHD theories and the causes of ADHD to avoid misdiagnoses and find the solution for each individual. There is no one-cure-for-all ADHD solution.

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