According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that as of 2011, approximately 11% of the children in the U. S. in the age span of 4 -17 have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
However, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that even though just 5% of the American children suffer from the disorder, the diagnosis is actually given in 15% of the cases. It is an undisputable fact that the number of cases is continuously increasing, being 7.8% in 2003, and has gone to 9.5% in just 4 years.
The large Pharmaceuticals companies convey to the parents and doctors that this is just a common disorder in the states and it should be medically treated. Nevertheless, it is a good thing that this belief is not shared by numerous other countries, since they define, diagnose and ADHD in a much different way.
French Definition of ADHD
In France, the French doctors diagnose this disorder in less than 0.5%. They believe that it is not a biological disorder but it actually results from psycho-social and situational factors. The French child psychiatrists have a different system than the American one in the classification of the emotional issues in the period of childhood, known as Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent (CFTMEA).This system differs from the APA’s system, and it has been originally created to “offer French child psychiatrists an alternative to DSM-III”.
The CFTMEA puts a great pressure on psychiatrists to determine the underlying issues that lead to child’s symptoms and to implement a psychopathological approach in order to treat them.
On, the other hand, French doctors define ADHD as a sociological disorder which results from a set of social circumstances, which is not the case with the U.S. as it is considered to be a neurological disorder whose symptoms are caused by the biological dysfunction or a chemical imbalance in the brain.
The reason why ADHD is differently defined in France than in America lies in the great influence of the pharmaceutical industry which helped in the definition of ADHD in the U.S.; the difference is not only in defining this condition, but also in the methods of treatment.
Used Treatment Methods for ADHD in France
Once a child has been diagnosed with ADHD, French doctors immediately are trying to determine the underlying causes. Psychiatrists take their part in examining the reason of the child’s distress and compare it to their social circumstances.
According to doctors in France, ADHD is treated as a social context issue, thereby often treated with psychotherapy or family counseling. Medications are rarely prescribed because they do not believe that they are needed for this type of treatment.
Furthermore, the diet of the child is highly taken into consideration as it may be a possible cause for the occurrence of this disorder like poor eating habits, meaning consuming foods with artificial colors or flavorings, sugars, preservatives, as allergens may have a negative impact on the behavior of the child.
A performed study in 2011 showed that the amount of youth in France with ADHD may be as low as 3.5%.
Dr. Marilyn Wedge, a family therapist and author of A Disease Called Childhood: Why ADHD Became an American Epidemic, states that this difference is a result of the cultural differences between the U.S. and France when it comes to raising children.
She claims that French parents would rather maintain more structured lifestyles with their children, emphasizing the importance of self-discipline, strict meal patterns times and using the method “cry it out” with babies and toddlers.
In France, spanking a child is not a child abuse and it is frequently utilized as a method to stimulate discipline. For this issue it was discussed in the Council of Europe in March 2015, an international human rights organization, which spoke about the lack of legislation regarding corporal punishment of children in France.
Regarding this issue The New York Times reports: “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.’ “
However, the positive effects of the treatment methods of ADHD in France may be a result of the holistic approach in matters of diet regime and as well as behavioral and social context.
In the sates the big pharma takes a great role in determining ADHD and its treatment methods because the researchers and doctors are being paid to estimate the risks of ADHD and the benefits of using drugs.
Many people very much take into the consideration their opinions as the information they receive is connected to the renowned universities like Harvard and Johns Hopkins, but not many people know the fact that they are funded by the same companies that profit from the drugs’ sale.
It is a fact that these types of medications can cause negative side effects thus being classified in the same group as morphine and oxycodone as a result of their high risk of abuse and addiction.
Dr. Irwin Savodnik, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California in Los Angeles claims that: “The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry.”
The other reason of higher rates of ADHD in the states is the massive advertisements of ADHD where parents are continuously listening to alleged claims of big pharma that ADHD drugs can improve test scores and behavior at home.
In 2009, appeared the most controversial advertisement for Intuniv, Shire’s A.D.H.D. treatment, where a child is portrayed in a monster costume who later on took off his appalling mask thereby showing calm, smiling face with a text reading, “There’s a great kid in there.”
FDA specifically warned and forced them to remove those types of advertisements since they were false, misleading, and exaggerate the effects of their drugs.That type of propaganda is not found in France.
The French definition of this disorder, their CFTMEA, and holistic approach to treating ADHD can show us valuable information how to treat ADHD. Moreover, this child’s disorder should not be instantly treated with medications because it is highly unethical, and harmful to a child’s self-esteem.
Fortunately, there are many doctors in U.S. who believe that ADHD should be treated in an alternative way, and they do not find it as disorder.
Here it is what this established 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 states regarding this issue, quoting:
“In psychiatry, many diseases are treated equally well with medication or therapy, but the guidelines tend to be biased toward medication.”
In addition to this, the holistic mental health practitioner Dr. Tyler Woods states:“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.”
Further on, the neurologist Richard Saul claims ADHD is not a disorder, but only a set of symptoms which shouldn’t be labeled as a disease and it shouldn’t be listed as a separate disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual.
Dr. Sanford Newmark, M.D., the leading integrative pediatrician and author of ADHD without Drugs: A Guide to the Natural Care of Children with ADHD has managed to treat ADHD naturally for 15 years. He strongly believes that the conventional medication should be lastly used in the treatment since they may lead to negative side effects.
His method of treating ADHD is consisted of enhanced nutrition, intake of zinc and iron, use of omega-3 supplements, increased sleep, family counseling, then positive social and behavioral changes, and also the use of the alternative treatments such as homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine.
The number of doctors and experts who consider that ADHD should not be treated in the conventional way is starting to increase day by day. They believe that ADHD needs to be treated with some of the alternative ways.
In the United States the capital culprit is the pharmaceutical industry which attributes to wrong diagnosis and over-diagnosis of ADHD.
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