ADHD seems to be quite a common, and certainly well known, disorder in the United States, with 11% of American children between the ages of 4 and 17 having been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
However, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), only 5% of American children actually suffer from ADHD, therefore meaning that over half of those children are taking the medication unnecessarily.
It has been claimed that medical establishment Big Pharma plays a significant role in manufacturing the ADHD epidemic in the US, by convincing both parents and doctors that the disorder is a common problem amongst children, and needs to be medicated.
Since the rise of the diagnosed disorder, there are many countries who do not agree with the US’s approach to ADHD, and therefore resort to different methods of dealing with it.
France is an example of a country who has a highly contrasted attitude towards ADHD, and as a result, less than 0.5% of children in France have been diagnosed and medicated with the disorder. This can be largely due to the fact that doctors in France do not consider ADHD a biological disorder, but instead see it as a medical condition which is caused by physcho-social and situational factors, rather than biological causes.
In order to classify childhood emotional problems, the French use a system produced by the French Federation of Psychiatry called ‘Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent (CFTMEA)‘.
This system was specifically designed to be an alternative to the American system, and encourages psychiatrists to identify any underlying issues which may be a cause for a child’s symptoms, which then leads to these symptoms being dealt with using a psychopathological approach.
The main difference between how the same ADHD disorder is seen is that France sees it as a sociological disorder which is caused as a result of social situations, whilst America believe it to be a neurological disorder, caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
As they both see the causes of the disorder very differently, their approach to treatment is therefore very different too.
French psychiatrists will study the child’s distress and analyse this with their social situations, as they believe that it is all about social context. Due to this, their chosen treatment for each child is often psychotherapy for the child, and sometimes even the family as well. Together with social behaviour, psychiatrists will also look at the child’s diet, as they believe that a diet containing a vast array of artificial colours and flavourings together with a high intake of sugar, may also contribute to a child’s behaviour and mood.
In the past, studies have suggested that the vast difference in the percentage of children with ADHD in France, at just 3.5%, compared to America, at 15%, could be a result of how each raises their children, including cultural differences.
Family therapist, Dr Marilyn Wedge, claims that French parents impose more structured lifestyles onto their children, enforcing strict meal times and self-taught discipline, which may encourage a more structured and healthy lifestyle, which is why she feels that they do not need to be medicated to cure behavioural issues.
Other research has claimed that France does not over-diagnose ADHD because they do not have the pressure from pharmaceutical companies that America does, including advertising, which can be very dangerous for the US as most people are not aware that such medical practices are funded by huge profit-making corporations.
So is the US giving their children unnecessary drugs which have possible negative side effects? And can the exact same condition be treated through family counselling?
Perhaps this is another case where we need to step away from the big corporations and do our research on alternative methods of treatment without the physical form of drugs which may be doing more harm than good.
IMAGE CREDIT:tinna2727 / 123RF Stock Photo
About The Author
Jess Murray is a wildlife filmmaker and conservation blogger, having recently returned from studying wildlife and conservation in South Africa, she is now striving to spread awareness about the truth behind faux conservation facilities throughout the world. You can follow Jess on Facebook Here