ADHD a “description” not a disease says leading US neuroscientist
Neuroscientist Dr. Bruce D Perry has suggested that ADHD is a “description rather than a disease” and believes that psychostimulants are prescribed unnecessarily.
On the eve of a visit to the UK to meet with Iain Duncan Smith and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, reveals that the expert believes that many people would fit a description of some of the symptoms of hyperactivity.
Dr. Perry, a fellow at the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas, expressed concerns with the large number of diagnoses of ADHD to the Observer, saying: “We are very immature in our current evolution in giving diagnoses. A hundred years ago, someone would come to the doctor and they would have chest pain and would be sweating. And they would say, ‘Oh, you have fever.’ They would label it, just like we label it [ADHD] now. It’s a description rather than a real disease.”
Dr. Perry favours an approach towards children exhibiting symptoms of ADHD which involves going back to the root of the problem, and believes that sometimes attention needs to be focused on the parents of the child before reaching for medication.
“There are number of non-pharmacological therapies which have been pretty effective. A lot of them involve helping the adults that are around children,” he said.
Raising questions over the effectiveness of drugs such as Ritalin, or other stimulants, Dr. Perry said: “Taking a medication influences systems in ways we don’t always understand. I tend to be pretty cautious about this stuff, particularly when the research shows you that other interventions are equally effective and over time more effective and have none of the adverse effects. For me it’s a no-brainer.”
Perry goes on to say that teaching parents to regulate themselves when children are struggling, and instead provide achievable goals, can break a negative feedback loop that is “contagious” when parents become anxious.
However Julie Grant, whose 15-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD six years ago, maintains her child would be “way out of control” without his meds.
She told BBC’s 5Live: “He’s damaged my home not being on medication … he’s punched holes in my banister, in my furniture and things. As soon as he’s on it he just calms right down.”