Most doctors would agree with the statement that one’s mental health is as important as the individual’s wellbeing. While in the previous century and before, mental disorders were often considered with an ounce of apprehension by medical professionals, and there was a significant stigma associated with such diagnoses, today the situation is much different. The more and more mental disorders are researched and diagnosed, the more accepting the public’s perception of these conditions becomes. One such condition is attention deficit disorder, commonly referred to with the acronym ADD, which has stirred up quite a storm with its high number of diagnosis in the late 20th century among adolescents.
Attention deficit disorder is the name for a condition which manifests itself by affecting the individual’s concentration, memory and general cognitive abilities. Contrary to the popular misconception, it goes far deeper than one’s inability to focus or their patience and perseverance needed to complete a specific task.
Furthermore, there are several types of this deficit disorder, starting with one which causes the affected individual, usually a younger child, to present symptoms of hyperactivity and restlessness. This type is referred to as the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, denoted as ADHD and sometimes as ADD-H in the medical community. Another type of this disorder, more common among adults, is the ADD-PI type with the ‘I’ referring to the disorder being predominantly inattentive. The adult’s inattentiveness can often lead to a lot of problems and difficult situations in the adult’s personal and professional lives, often being the underlying symptom of other manifested mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
The reason for the controversy around the attention deficit disorder is due to the way it has been diagnosed, and the most common available forms of treatment. As is the case with many conditions affecting one’s mental health, the diagnosis of any form of ADD is not an easy one to arrive at. Furthermore, it only appears to get more difficult with the affected individual’s age, as one may often learn different management techniques to deal with the manifested symptoms, as well as show signs of other disorders hiding the underlying attention deficit disorder. Currently, the most common method of diagnosis used by psychiatrists and neurologists is a general discussion of the patient’s mental health history with a summary of the patient’s experienced symptoms.
If there are any signs of ADD, the doctor may ask the patient to fill out a specific ADD-related questionnaire to narrow down the correct diagnosis. However, since the doctor is usually bound by the responses of their patients, and the fact that mental health disorders do have overlapping symptoms, it is not uncommon for many individuals affected with ADD to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety, and vice-versa. Furthermore, the only forms of treatment available for the disorder are the powerful Schedule II stimulants, such as amphetamine-based Adderall or methylphenidate-based Ritalin. These substances have shown to increase the physical and cognitive performance of all test subjects whether they have the disorder or not, leading to the public’s view that some individuals misdiagnosed with the disorder may be offered an unfair advantage over other individuals, who perform the same activities without the assistance of these substances.