The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that as of 2011, about 11% of the children in the United States between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Yet, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) claims that although only 5% of American children suffer from the disorder, the diagnosis is actually given in 15% of the cases.It is a fact that this number is continuously increasing, being 7.8% in 2003, and has jumped to 9.5% in only four years.
According to Big Pharma, parents and doctors should know that this is a common disorder in America and it should be medically treated. This opinion is not shared by numerous other countries, as they define, treat, and diagnose Ad\DHD much differently.
For instance, the French doctors diagnose this disorder in less than 0.5%. They maintain that it is not a biological disorder but a result of psycho-social and situational factors.
Namely, the child psychiatrists in France use a different system than American ones in the classification of the emotional problems in childhood, one produced by the French Federation of Psychiatry, and known as Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent(CFTMEA).
It is greatly different from the APA’s system, and it has been originally created to “offer French child psychiatrists an alternative to DSM-III” as it didn’t complement French psychiatric practices.
The CFTMEA forces psychiatrists to find out the underlying issues that lead to child’s symptoms and to have a psychopathological approach in order to target them.
French doctors define ADHD as a sociological disorder which is a result of a set of social situations, while the U.S. regards it as a neurological disorder whose symptoms are caused by the biological dysfunction or a chemical imbalance in the brain.
The definition of ADHD in France is significantly different than the American one, mostly due to the fact that because the pharmaceutical industry helped define ADHD in the U.S. The methods of treatment are also dramatically different.
Treatment Methods for ADHD Used in France
As soon as a child is diagnosed with this disorder in France, doctors try to find out the underlying causes. Psychiatrists investigate the child’s distress and compare it to their social situations.
French doctors regard this disorder as a social context issue, and thus, it is often treated with psychotherapy or even family counselling. Medications are almost never prescribed, as they are believed to be unnecessary.
French psychiatrists also consider a patient’s diet when investigating the possible causes, as poor eating habits like consuming foods with artificial colors or flavorings, preservatives, sugars, and/or allergens might have a negative effect on the behavior of the child.
According to a study conducted in 2011, the amount of youth in France with ADHD may be as low as 3.5%.
According to the family therapist and author of A Disease Called Childhood: Why ADHD Became an American Epidemic, Dr. Marilyn Wedge, this might be due to the cultural differences between the U.S. and France in when it comes to raising children.
She maintains that French parents will often impose more structured lifestyles onto their children, stressing the importance of self-discipline, strict meal times and using the “cry it out” method with babies and toddlers.
Yet, spanking is not considered child abuse in France, and it is often used as a method to stimulate discipline. In March 2015, the Council of Europe, an international human rights organization, spoke about the lack of legislation regarding corporal punishment of children in France.
According to The New York Times “Child abuse is illegal in France and is punished with long prison sentences, but it is not uncommon for French parents to slap or spank children, or for the French courts to view such actions as acceptable under a customary ‘right to discipline.’ “
Yet, the effects of the treatment methods of ADHD in France are probably due to the holistic approach in considering diet and behavioral and social context.
In the United States, the large pharmaceutical companies play a main role in defining ADHD and its treatment methods, as, for instance, the researchers and doctors have been paid to overstate the risks of ADHD and the benefits of the use of medications.
People believe in their opinions as the information they receive is affiliated with well-known universities such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins.
Most of them are not even aware of the fact that studies conducted at these universities have been funded by the same companies that profit from the drugs’ sale.
Yet, it is a fact that these medicaments can cause various adverse effects and can be classified in the same group as morphine and oxycodone due to their high risk of abuse and addiction.
According to Dr. Irwin Savodnik, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California in Los Angeles,
“The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry.”
The ADHD drug advertisements that run in the U.S. are another cause of the greatly higher rates of the disorder in the United States. Parents are constantly hearing false claims by the Big Pharma like the one that ADHD drugs can improve test scores and behavior at home.
One such controversial advertisement is the one from 2009 for Intuniv, Shire’s A.D.H.D. treatment, in which a child in a monster costume took off his terrifying mask and thus showed calm, smiling self with a text reading, “There’s a great kid in there.”
They were warned and even forced to remove such ads numerous times by the FDA, as they are false, misleading, and/or exaggerate the effects of their drugs. Such propaganda does not take place in France.
We can learn a lot from the French definition of this disorder, their CFTMEA, and holistic approach to treating ADHD. This disorder should not be immediately treated with medications, as it is unethical, and damaging to a child’s self-esteem.
Sometimes, the child might only be uninterested in the subject matter, emotionally traumatized, or with a heightened creativity and energy.
Yet, there are also numerous American doctors who believe that ADHD should be treated in an alternative way, and they do not consider it to be a disorder.
According to the Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and Editor-in-Chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report Daniel J. Carlat, M.D, “In psychiatry, many diseases are treated equally well with medication or therapy, but the guidelines tend to be biased toward medication.”
Moreover, the Holistic Mental Health Practitioner Dr. Tyler Woods additionally claims:
“The DSM tends to pathologize normal behaviors. For instance, the label “Anxiety Disorder” can be given as a result of some kinds of normal and rather healthy anxieties but the DSM will have experts view it and treat it as mental illness.
In addition, simple shyness can be seen and treated as “Social Phobia”, while spirited and strong willed children as “Oppositional Disorder”. Consequently, many psychotherapists, regardless of their theoretical orientations, tend to follow the DSM as instructed.”
Furthermore, the neurologist Richard Saul investigates patients who struggle with short attention spans and difficulty focusing his entire career, and he maintains that ADHD isn’t actually a disorder, but a set of symptoms that shouldn’t be considered a disease.
He also states that it shouldn’t be listed as a separate disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual.
Also, the leading integrative pediatrician and author of ADHD without Drugs: A Guide to the Natural Care of Children with ADHD Dr. Sanford Newmark, M.D. investigated and treated ADHD in a natural way for 15 years.
He believed that the conventional medication should be a last resort in the treatment, and might lead to adverse effects.
Instead, his method includes improved nutrition, zinc, iron, family counselling, increased sleep, and Omega-3 supplementation, positive social and behavioral changes, as well as alternative modalities like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy.
There is a growing number of experts and doctors who believe that ADHD should be treated outside conventional treatments.
The pharmaceutical industry is the main culprit for the misdiagnosis and over-diagnosis of ADHD in the U.S. Instead, they believe that there is a need for other alternatives to medications.