Why it's become important to tread carefully when diagnosing ADHD

Specialist psychiatrist Dr Lavinia Lumu says diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is becoming a more complex terrain.

Dr Lumu says many critics have accused medical practitioners of over-diagnosis in recent years, while many adults still experience untreated symptoms due to stigma.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is often colloquially referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD).

However, she explains that diagnostic criteria refer to ADHD and not ADD because ADD represents only one subtype of ADHD.

ADD is basically a variant or type of ADHD that one can get.

Dr Lavinia Lumu, Specialist psychiatrist

It's a neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorder which affects certain functions of the brain including the ability to pay attention, focus and concentrate.

Dr Lavinia Lumu, Specialist psychiatrist

Read: 'Turn your phone off and spend time with your kids'

ADHD falls under three categories, the inattentive type, the hyperactive-impulsive type and a combined type.

Dr Lumu says it's not just about a naughty or seemingly disruptive child. It's about a cluster of symptoms.

She advises that ADHD requires several clinicians to make the diagnosis. Individuals need to be thoroughly assessed to rule out any other underlying conditions or factors, Dr Lumu adds.

Right now we're faced with a difficult situation where people think that doctors and teachers want to medicalise the behaviours that children present with, thereby leading to the over-diagnosis of ADHD.

Dr Lavinia Lumu, Specialist psychiatrist

It's not an easy diagnosis given the era that we're in, where people want kids to sit still in class. We have to exclude other things as well.

Dr Lavinia Lumu, Specialist psychiatrist

Up to 60% of children who have ADHD in their childhood, continue with ADHD symptoms in adulthood. Only a small percentage of children outgrow their ADHD.

Dr Lavinia Lumu, Specialist psychiatrist

Listen to the expert advice:


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