An editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia has claimed that children are being ‘medicalised’ and that far too many are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and prescribed powerful stimulant medications such as Ritalin.
The editorial, authored by Dr Adrian Dunlop (University of Newcastle) and Professor Louise Newman (Royal Woman’s Hospital – Melbourne) was critical of doctors who prescribe children stimulants, saying that they are using a “simplistic attempt to find solutions to more complex problems underlying behavioural and emotional difficulties”.
According to a 2014 Government report, the number of children prescribed stimulant medication has increased fourfold since 2007, from 821 children to 3527. This is a massive jump in a short amount of time and shows that there needs to be a review of just how ADHD is diagnosed and managed in this country.
The ADHD stimulant epidemic is driven by doctors, parents and teachers. Doctors are far too willing to hand out the drugs without consideration of their effects (or a proper diagnosis), parents are complaining to doctors that they need something to be able to cope with ‘uncontrollable’ children and teachers are refusing to deal with certain difficult students unless they are medicated. It’s an entirely unsatisfactory course of events.