Do You Believe in ADHD?

Do you believe in ADHD? Don’t you ever wonder if rowdy, little kids aren’t just a bit of exercise, a steady climate of discipline and a few healthy meals away from normal kids? Do you ever think that the adults who claim to have it really need no more than a kick in the pants and a healthy dose of “trying harder”.

Is it reasonable to disbelieve in ADHD? A lot of people think so. Google returns more than 10,000 hits to a search for “believe in ADD [or ADHD]”. As questions of belief go, that’s a small Web presence. It was easy to find bigger issues of belief that people discuss much more often. “Believe in Jesus” returns 1,700,000 hits. Belief in Santa Claus gets almost half that. Belief in God was #2 in my survey with 3.7 million hits, and #1 was believing in either “you” or “yourself”. There are over 7.5 million references to such positive thinking.

Belief–or lack of it– in ADHD is a minor feature of the Web landscape. To get ADHD’s 10,000 hits in perspective, here are a few more relative Google-o-meter readings:

Belief in “each other” – 1,150,000 hits
Belief in “something” – 960,000 hits
Belief in Islam – 134,000 hits
Belief in Buddha or Buddhism – 25,000 hits
Belief in Bush – 76,000 hits
Belief in Obama – 90,000 hits
Belief in McCain – 8,700 hits
Belief in peanut butter – 1,430 hits (most referring to the 1975 ad for Peter Pan Peanut Butter).

So believing in ADHD is a topic of discussion less often than believing in Buddha and George Bush, but more common than John McCain and Peter Pan’s peanut butter. At first blush, it appears that there is only a modest amount of discussion on the World Wide Web about “believing in ADHD”.

But look again. Everything we have compared to the ADHD belief-o-meter is either a belief system or a political figure. (Or a nut spread.) But ADHD is none of those. It is a mental disorder, the subject of over 15,000 academic studies and papers archived in the United States National Institute of Health Library of Medicine.

How does ADHD compare to the other disorders and diseases from that library?

Belief in coronary heart disease – 0 Google hits
Belief in liver cancer – 0 hits
Belief in chronic lung disease – 0 hits
Belief in streptococcus – 0 hits
Belief in hip fracture – 0 hits

Basically no one is talking about whether it is right to believe in these common medical disorders. How about neurologic (brain-based disorders)? Do people debate beliefs regarding neurologic disorders more than cardiovascular or orthopedic disorders? The answer is mixed:

Belief in epilepsy – 8 hits
Belief in dyslexia – 390 hits
Belief in anxiety – 600 hits
Belief in psychiatrists/psychiatry – 4,000 hits
Belief in depression – 5,000 hits
And ADHD, as you recall garnered 10,000 hits.

Apparently, ADHD (and depression to some degree) is handled more like a belief system than a medical disorder in the public marketplace of ideas. People feel free to post on the internet that they do or do not “believe in ADHD” and other neurologic disorders whereas they do not publicly declare beliefs about the existence of general medical disorders.

Whether it is appropriate or not, a lot of people feel that ADHD is more like an opinion than a fact, and that their personal opinion should help guide the treatment. So, how many of the 15,000 studies in the Library of Medicine do you think most folks read to help them form their opinion….?

Physician specializing in diagnosis and management of attention deficit disorders and related conditions.

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Posted in ADD, ADHD, attention, deficit

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Oren Mason MD
Oren Mason MD

Oren Mason MD

Physician specializing in diagnosis and management of attention deficit disorders and related conditions.

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