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Does any other recent disease have comparable history with ADHD ?

  1. Sep 5, 2014 #1
    Of diseases discovered in the last 50 years, which of them currently has the highest incidence in the developed world, and what is that percentage ?

    ADHD is allegedly affecting over 5% of children in the developed world ...

    http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=98517 [Broken]

    To me this seems an unbelievably high percentage for a neurological disorder which was unknown to medical science 50 years ago. [ it reminds me of the "sluggish schizophrenia" diagnosis used by the USSR for modifying the behaviour of individuals who were problematic to the state , who didn't actually have a neurological disorder ].

    Are their any diseases discovered in the last 50 years which can be objectively measured as currently having a comparable incidence to the alleged incidence of ADHD ?, ( if there are that would be evidence that such a exponential rise is actually possible ).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2014 #2


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    Cancer. This is just in the UK. Not even comparable, cancer is so far ahead it's not even in the same league. These include new types of cancers.


    More facts if you are interested.


    Now is ADHD over diagnosed, I would say it's likely. No, I do not have time to pull studies right now, if there are any. I have read articles where parents have pushed to get their children diagnosed with this and dyslexia to get them medications and preferential treatments in schools and have previously posted some of these articles. Particularly upsetting are the articles where parents were paying to get their kids "dyslexic" excuses to get their kids an additional 2 hours to take the SAT.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2014
  4. Sep 5, 2014 #3


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    I'm not sure it's correct to call ADHD a disease.

    Anyway, autism.

    (it has been with us a bit longer than 50 years, but not that much more)

    Also, I wouldn't rely too much on the state of psychiatry and neuroscience half a century ago or more. Those were still the dark ages, with such gems as lobotomy, amygdalectomy and forced sterilisation of homosexuals.
    I think it's safe to say we know much more about human brain now.

    But it seems to me like you're surprised ADHD diagnoses skyrocketed after it being recognised as a disorder. In the same vein, you could be surprised that diagnoses of female hysteria plummeted after it cesed being recognised as a real disorder.
  5. Sep 6, 2014 #4
    Cancer was not first discovered within the last 50 years , I was interested to see if there was something with a history comparable to ADHD, which apparently was first described in 1980 and now allegedly affects more than 5% of children.

    Unlike "sluggish schizophrenia" ADHD may actually exist , but that it took until 1980 for someone to notice it means it's a rarity , not something affecting 5% of the population.

    There isn't an objective test for autism, : there is an arbitrary autistic spectrum, [ being a train-spotter could get someone placed on the autistic spectrum ].

    I was trying to find if there was a recent disease which had a comparable history to ADHD, (not necessary a psychiatric one), where there was hard-evidence of it's true incidence, e.g. via EEG , MRI , blood-test, X-Ray , whatever. No grey area. No "judgement calls". Where the disease had gone from discovery to above 5% incidence in about 50 years.

    [ e.g. HIV/AIDs seems to have reached the developed world around 1960 but currently only affects 0.8% of the world population ]
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  6. Sep 6, 2014 #5


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    But new types of cancer have been diagnosed and there are better ways to diagnose and more people are being screened for cancer which all have to do with the increase of diagnosis, and kids diagnosed with ADHD now were simply called "hyperactive", "troublesome" or "disorderly" when I was a child, so it's not new, or necessarily increasing, just the name and making it an official diagnosis and people looking for a diagnosis make it seem to be increasing, IMO.

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  7. Sep 6, 2014 #6


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    Cancer is a disease, i.e. there is clear objective evidence whether you have it or not. ADHD is a disorder, not a disease. Mixing up the two categories of things is problematical, IMO.

    Of course the improved diagnosis of cancer on its own doesn't necessarily improve health care, if on the one hand there is no effective treatment for what is diagnosed, or on the other hand there is no way to tell whether a particular cancer will actually affect your quality of life before you die from some other cause, and the "treatment" was worse than the "disease".
  8. Sep 6, 2014 #7


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    I agree it's a bad comparison, but I made the comparison solely for the reason that both have had huge jumps in the number of cases "diagnosed" not necessarily due to an increase in actual cases as much as the changes to being diagnosed in the first place, if that makes sense. I'm not comparing cancer, a disease, to ADHD a mental disorder. I'm discussing the huge jumps in the numbers of cases diagnosed because of the attention to them causing them to be diagnosed in greater numbers. For cancer, it can be a good thing, depends, for ADHD, may not always be a good thing.

    A recent Time article on just how bad it can get when you rely on parent's opinions.

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  9. Sep 6, 2014 #8
    Offically ADHD, (if it does actually exist) , is a neurodevelopmental disorder, to apply it to children who are simply unruly is an abuse of that diagnosis.

    In addition to those seeking smart-drugs for their children, generic-Ritalin is much cheaper than the cost of reforming or replacing deficient primary-carers, (e.g. state foster-care in the UK is £40K p.a.). So there is pressure on doctors who work for the state to fit-up some problematic children with an ADHD diagnosis in the name of economy :¬(
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  10. Sep 6, 2014 #9


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    I couldn't agree more, and that's addressed in that article I posted.
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