You are not alone.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral childhood disorder, and the fastest growing diagnosed behavioral disorder in adults. There are approximately 1,000,000 new cases of ADHD diagnosed yearly in children and 600,000 new cases per year diagnosed in adults in the U.S. Even with the increase in the number of people being diagnosed and contrary to popular belief of over-diagnosing, it is estimated that as much as 85% of the adult ADHD population and 50% of the pediatric population is currently undiagnosed.
Properly diagnosing ADHD can be a complicated proposition for clinicians for a number of reasons. ADHD actually comprises three distinct subtypes of attention disorder with separate sets of criteria that can and do occur in combinations with one another. Many other conditions, such as learning disabilities, bipolar disorder, anxiety and/or depression, also produce clinical symptoms which can mimic ADHD and thus make an accurate differential diagnosis of ADHD virtually impossible without brain imaging. It is estimated that at least 50% of the school-aged population who have ADHD also have another behavioral disorder (known as "comorbidity").
For example, some studies have found that a large percentage of children with ADHD have or will develop bipolar disorder. It is imperative to know whether ADHD is co-existent with bipolar disorder for a patient. Why? Because if the ADHD is treated BEFORE the bipolar disorder, the patient could experience severe manic episodes.
In light of the above, the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD has become extremely controversial. Some studies indicate that up to 20% of children in some school districts have been diagnosed with ADHD while in other school districts, the prevalence rate is closer to only 2%. This extreme variability strongly suggests the lack of a consistently applied standard and/or a lack of understanding of the basic biology of the disorder. Indeed, the American Psychiatric Association has acknowledged that in studies it has performed, clinicians routinely misapply the established criteria for the diagnosis of ADHD as set-forth in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Finally, An Objective Diagnostic Tool.
It is evident that the current diagnostic process for ADHD leaves much to be desired and that there is an urgent need for a more objective tool to assist in the diagnosis of ADHD. SPECT brain imaging has proven itself to be an extremely effective tool in helping physicians identify the presence or, maybe more importantly, the absence of ADHD in both children and adults. It can also help to differentiate ADHD from other co-morbid disorders in order to increase the efficacy of treatment and reduce the chances of unintended side effects and poor reactions due to misdiagnosis.
No matter what your brain based concerns are, our staff and physicians are dedicated to help you feel better. If you have questions, would like to learn more or schedule an appointment, please call us at 866-722-4806 or complete our contact us form.