Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a diagnosis everyone’s familiar with. It’s most commonly diagnosed in children, with 12 percent of boys and 5 percent of girls aged 3 to 17 getting diagnoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But at least one pediatric neurologist contends the numbers. Richard Saul, M.D., argues that ADHD simply doesn’t exist, and he writes about it in his new book, ADHD Does Not Exist: The Truth About Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
According to Fox News, one excerpt reads, “Let me be clear: The premise of this book is that not a single individual – not even the person who finds it close to impossible to pay attention or sit still – is afflicted by the disorder called ADHD as we define it today.”
He argues in the book that ADHD is just a collection of symptoms rather than a disease in its own right, according to the Daily Mail. “The diagnosis can be an easy-to-reach-for crutch,” he writes. “Moreover, there’s an attractive element to an ADHD diagnosis, especially in adults – it can be exciting to think of oneself as involved in many things at once, rather than stuck in a boring rut.”
In his own practice, Dr. Saul says he can usually find other factors involved in ADHD symptoms. One unruly girl, for example, was acting out in school simply because she couldn’t see the board and needed glasses. A 36-year-old man turned out to just need more sleep and less caffeine.
Dr. Saul isn’t the only person speaking out about ADHD. The condition has caused controversy over the years, especially when it comes to diagnosing drugs to children. Many say the condition is overdiagnosed and people are unnecessarily drugging children simply for behaving like children.
Others say there’s no issue. The rise in diagnoses and prescriptions, according Andrew Gilbert, M.D., is the result of a lessened stigma and more prominent information.