19% of teen boys diagnosed with ADHD

Nineteen percent of high-school-age boys and 11 percent of school-age children overall have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diagnosis rates have soared by 53 percent in the last decade, reports the New York Times.

About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis.

“Those are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy.”

Fifteen percent of school-age boys and 7 percent of girls now carry the ADHD label.

ADHD medications such as Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and Vyvanse “can vastly improve focus and drive” for students with mild or nonexistent symptoms, reports the Times. An ADHD “diagnosis has become a popular shortcut to better grades, some experts said, with many students unaware of or disregarding the medication’s health risks.”

Ann Althouse wonders about possible side effects of “viewing youthful spirit as abnormal” and “skewing academic competition with performance-enhancing drugs.”

About Joanne