I slogged through the entire thing (and that was *after* my Adderall wore off, so I'm pretty proud of myself), and quickly realized it was going to be the jumping-point for a nice, long, bitchy blog post.
If you don't have time for the whole article, or if you just haven't had your
I should point out that while the increase for women is certainly there, men and women are now being diagnosed in equal number.
One single doctor opposed to all this prescribing is referenced. That doctor is Dr. Joanna Moncrief, a lecturer at the Department of Mental Sciences of the University College London. She wrote a book called "The Myth of the Chemical Cure, a Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment. Articles that she's written include such unbiased work as "Psychiatric Imperialism: The Medicalisation of Modern Living," and "Efficacy of Antidepressants."
So, you know, she might have
Dr. Moncrief compares the rise in ADHD diagnoses in adult women to the rampant diagnoses of "neurosis" in the 50s and 60s, which came with the prescribing of mother's little helpers. My grandmother spent most of the 1950s whacked out on Miltown. Hello? Women's mental health issues were dismissed then, and they're clearly being dismissed now. It's particularly shameful that a woman doctor made that argument.
The entire premise of the piece smacks of "don't worry your pretty little head about it." And lest you think doctors doctors no longer dismiss the concerns of women, I've got a story for you. Last week a friend was in the children's hospital with her critically, chronically ill child. A resident doctor told her "not to worry her pretty little head" about the little girl's bloodwork results. Um, actually ... it's a pretty good thing to worry about.
It seems patently obvious to me why there has been an increase in the ADHD diagnosis for women in their late 30s:
- We are only now beginning to diagnose girls correctly.
- Women are diagnosed in their late 30s because a) they learn about it when their children (especially their daughters) are diagnosed and b) their ADHD now affects other people -- namely, their children
- Stress and anxiety make ADHD symptoms worse. Have you done anything more stressful and anxiety-producing than parenting? I haven't, and I was in the freaking U.S. Army.
- What happened between 2001 and 2009 to account for the 164% rise? That might be how long it took for information in 1994's DSM-IV (a.k.a., the Big Book o' Crazy) to filter down to general physicians, pediatricians, and school professionals. In this updated manual for psychiatrists, the term ADD (attention deficit disorder) was replaced by ADHD (attention deficit - hyperactivity disorder). ADHD was subdivided into two types - Predominantly Hyperactive (i.e., hyper), and Predominantly Inattentive (i.e., space cadet). As doctors became more aware of the inattentive type, more girls and women were diagnosed, because this is the type girls and women are more likely to have.
If men and women are now diagnosed with adult ADD in equal numbers, why is no one writing articles like this about men? Why are there no articles titled "Adult men and ADHD ... is it all in their heads?" or "Dudes and ADHD ... real disorder or a bunch of slackers who need to man up?"
On my blog, I make light of my ADHD issues. I'm able to laugh at myself, but for the most part, it isn't funny. It sucks. Bills went unpaid, electricity was turned off, appointments were missed, papers were not turned in. I'm sad that I spent so many years thinking I was lazy, or crazy, or both.
However, I'm overjoyed that the static in my brain is gone. I'm also thankful that my doctor saw clearly what it took me nearly four decades to figure out: I have ADHD, and medication helps me.