Roberts, John. "Behavioural Disorders Are Overdiagnosed in US." British Medical Journal 312 (March 16, 1996): 657.

Summary: An agency based in Vienna, the United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board, was asked by the US Drug Enforcement Administration to look at the diagnosis and treatment of attention deficit disorder (ADD). In their researching, they discovered that "American children are probably being over-diagnosed as having a behavioural disorder and being overprescribed drugs to treat it." IN 1990, 900,000 were reported as having been diagnosed with ADD; as of 1995, it was over two million.
The UN found that the drug used to bring "focus" and "concentration" to people with ADD, methylphenidate (marketed as Ritalin in the US), is being rapidly prescribed. This is of concern to them because it is being used as a "quick fix" to settle down the children of "frustrated parents" and "overburdened school administrators" rather than as part of a well thought-out action plan for development. Evidence has shown that ADD is not even being properly diagnosed and treated in some children. In 1994 at the University of California at Riverside, 380 pediatricians surveyed found that 50% of those children diagnosed with ADD "did not undergo psychological or educational testing" before using Ratlin. ADD is diagnosed four times more often in boys and it is estimated that 10-12% of all American boys between 6 and 14 years of age use Ritalin.
Implications: If the American people do not begin to look at ADD more critically and seriously, children could continue to be labeled ADD and resultantly miss out on the quality of education and social development they would have had had their normal state
of mind and behavior not been altered by the drug, Ratalin. The large amounts of people diagnosed with ADD and the suspected inaccuracy of some of these diagnoses imply that America may be getting too lazy. It implies that medical professionals, parents, and teachers need to work more diligently to release accurate assessments of a child's behavioral condition. Being that this journal is a British one, it also implies that America is inferior in its medical diagnoses (probably in comparison to European nations) and that Ritalin should be one of the last resorts, not the first result, for treating ADD.
Impressions: I would have to agree with the UN's International Narcotics Control Board that America is probably over-diagnosing people with behavioral disorders. One possible example is the first grade boy I tutor twice a week. This boy is very bright and full of energy, however, he tends to be anxious in his classroom seat and other times seems to have his mind on something else when his teacher is teaching a lesson or I am tutoring him. He has some of the symptoms of a person with ADD, but call it what you want, he seems to just be (like his teacher says) adjusting to school from a home environ-ment where (I am told) he could do just about whatever he wanted to do (very little discipline). To then come to school and be made to sit and learn and listen attentively for six hours a day, five days a week is a drastic change. He may have been labeled ADD incorrectly.
His special education told me that he just had a behavioral problem, not ADD. She said that he was basically spoiled and needed to learn that he is a child and cannot do whatever he wants to do. Giving him Ratlin would probably be detrimental to his development, for I am hopeful that the ADD label will be removed from him once he decides to accept the discipline of learning and school.


"Behavioural Disorders Are Overdiagnosed in US"