Why is it important to diagnose and treat ADHD?

-Bea Lingenfelder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is seen as one of the most important disorders to treat already in childhood, because it is a highly prevalent and persistent problem that can continue into adulthood. There is a big hype about the dangers of Concerta and other stimulants, but the main concern is the accuracy of an ADHD diagnosis, for over diagnosis surfaces more and more commonly.

According to Doctor Whitmore, General Practitioner at Medicross in Brackenfell, there is a specific criteria in making the diagnoses including a questionnaire and several interviews with the patient and family members. (Table 1)

Table 1:

Diagnosis assessment:
–          Family interview
–          Parents as informants
–          The child as informant
–          The Connors’ questionarre

 

However schools, families and even some medical or mental health professionals have become progressively prone to ascribe a variety of problems people exhibit to ADHD which should rather be addressed by alternative mental health interventions or special needs education. Many misconceptions and inaccurate expectations exist by overlooking individuals with other problems including substance abuse, neglect in the home, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, etc. This leads to a tendency to over diagnose ADHD and inappropriate management or treatment.

“That is why it is so essential to have a specialist to do the evaluation and diagnoses. The person who prescribes it must know your history,” Isabella de Kock, psychiatrist assistant, states.

According to her if the person is properly diagnosed, is it essential to take the medication rather than not to.

“When you are not treated with ADHD, you experience a fractured reality and you are not able to achieve your full potential on academic and social platforms like you should.”

Even though one of the side effects of Concerta is anxiety, not being treated for ADHD can cause just as much anxiety because of your lack of controlling your focus.

Furthermore, De Kock says that untreated ADHD affects many areas of normal development and functioning and can place a child at risk for developing psychiatric and social pathology later in life. Adults often present with disorganization, poor concentration, shifting activities or not finishing projects, all of which have a huge impact on their personal life as well as on their workplace.  Procrastination and intermittent explosive outbursts are also very typical.

Jacques Punt, an ADD undergraduate at Stellenbosch University confirms that since he started to use Concerta, it really helped him to be more productive in class, even though he was only diagnosed at 18 years old.

“My school years were not a walk in the park, even though I do not have hyperactivity. I was not that familiar with the symptoms of ADD and thought that I was just looking for an excuse not to study. I don’t use Concerta every day, but I surely can feel and see the difference.” (Watch his full story in the video.)

However, using Concerta without prescription is not a good idea, because a prescription is targeted for your specific circumstances. It is also not good to use it for something that it wasn’t intended for. For example if you want to use Concerta to stay awake and party all night long, is it not a good idea, because Concerta was not developed for that purpose. (Read more about the misuse of Concerta here)

It is better to be diagnosed early so that you can learn how to cope with the medication’s side effects later in life. You can learn to have control over it.

Kiara de Kock, postgraduate student of the Stellenbosch University is on 54mg Concerta since she was grade seven.

“At the beginning I did experience the common side effects like headaches and irregular sleep patterns, but today I know exactly how to cope. Having the most intense case of ADHD, Concerta truly helps me to get along with not only study purposes, but to live my life like a regular person.”

Whitmore states that it is important to diagnose individuals with ADHD as early as possible, but at the same time it is also important that over diagnosis and resulting inappropriate treatment does not take place.

Concerta can ruin your life just as much as what it can change your life for good.”

Students uninformed of Concerta usage: https://youtu.be/_JvvLb7Rrsk

DSC_3655
Concerta is often accused of causing bad behavioural changes, but it is rather an result of inaccurate treatment. PHOTO: Bea Lingenfelder
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