Who Has ADHD?

 The Many Faces of ADD and ADHD

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ADHD the History and Names

I find the research on ADHD/ADD fascinating.  The name for this disorder has changed several times and symptoms have been added to the current official DSM-III.  If your disease or disorder is not listed in the DSM-III it does not exist.

If you want to know a little of the history of ADHD read on.

Although the symptoms of ADHD and ADD have been around probably forever, it was only recently that it was given the name Attention Deficit Disorder.

In 1902, the first documented diagnosis relating to impulsiveness was made by Dr. Still in Britain. He called this disorder "Defect of Moral Control" and believed that the individual had a medical disorder beyond their control.

Nothing new until 1922 when the diagnosis was proclaimed to be  "Post-Encephalitic Behavior Disorder." Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus such as measles, chickenpox, small pox, herpes, or influenza.  In 1922 it was not uncommon for any of these viruses to cause death. Encephalitis could even be caused by lead poisoning. Mosquito-borne virus was a major cause of Encephalitis.  Consider that most ADHD is diagnosed in children and I believe it was a logical conclusion by the doctors of the time to blaim it on Encephalitis.  Who knows, maybe someday doctors will again come to the conclusion that ADHD is an after effect of the flu.

In 1937, Dr. Charles Bradley introduced the use of stimulants in children who were hyperactive. You have to wonder how many parents questioned this course of treatment for hyperactive children when they were already bouncing off the walls. While it is true that stimulants calm hyperactive kids, what tests did Dr. Bradley conduct that lead him to stimulants instead of depressants. I wonder what stimulants he used.  Was it a simple discovery because his own child was calmer after a cup of coffee?

In 1956, Ritalin was introduced as the drug of choice to treat hyperactivity. 

In the 1960s, stimulants were used by a wider population.  The only symptom that was really documented at this point was hyperactivity.  In the early 1960s, the disorder was called "Minimal Brain Dysfunction".  By the end of the decade, the name of the disorder was changed to "Hyperkinetic Disorder of Childhood." I wonder, was everyone on drugs in the 60's?

Between the 1970's to 1980's, new symptoms were added to the description of ADHD disorder. Along with hyperactivity, symptoms now included lack of focus and spaceyness associated with impulsiveness. Impulsiveness now included verbal, cognitive and motor impulsiveness.

In 1980, the disorder was given its current name of Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without hyperactivity.  This was documented in the DSM-III put out by the American Psychiatric Association.  ADD and ADHD were two different diagnoses. 

In 1987, ADD was changed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  The American Psychiatric Associated noted that this was a medical diagnosis, and not purely psychological.  They also noted that ADHD could cause behavioral issues.

In 1996, a new medication called Adderall was approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD.  After a preliminary test period, it was deemed to be better at treating the disorder since it lasted longer and yet was easier for the body to adjust to not having the drug in the system.

In 1999, other medications were added to treat ADHD such as Concerta and Focalin.

In 2003, Strattera was introduced as the first ADHD medication that was not a stimulant.  This drug acted like an antidepressant, but increased the amount of norepinephrine in the brain.
Today, families and doctors alike use a combination of diet, drugs and psychiatric treatment to live with ADHD.

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Answers For Your Health/ADHD is edited and published by Sharon Owen. You want your health questions answered in plain language not doctor speak.  For more information on ADHD and ADD please see ADHD Searching For the Answers.

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