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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Despite contoversy about the validity of the diagnosis Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and the long term safety of the drugs used to treat it, ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed and medicated childhood and adolescent psychiatric disorder in the world.[1|[2]  In the following pages we cut through the hype and outline the facts about ADHD.

The ADHD Controversy - Summarises conflicting views on the diagnosis, treatment, long-term prognosis and relationship between ADHD and drug use.

Diagnosing ADHD - Details the diagnostic criteria of ADHD and how ADHD is and isn't diagnosed.

ADHD Drugs - Details the short and long term effects of the 'medications' most often used to treat ADHD. 

What causes ADHD? - Outlines and evaluates the various hypothesis on what causes ADHD type behaviours.

ADHD and Drug Abuse - Explores conflicting views on the relationship between ADHD and Drug Abuse (i.e. undiagnosed ADHD causes drug abuse versus ADHD medications are addictive and are frequently abused).

ADHD non-drug treatments - Discusses some on the non-pharmacological treatments of ADHD.

ADHD and Genetics - Evaluates the evidence for the assertion that ADHD is a genetically predetermined disorder.

History of ADHD - Traces the growth of ADHD including the broadening of the diagnostic criteria over time.

Editors Comment - I (Dr Martin Whitely) acknowledge that I am a prominent ADHD critic. However, I have tried to fairly reflect the diversity of views, and identify the relevant robust evidence, on this, and the other, ADHD related pages. While I and many other critics believe that ADHD is not a useful diagnostic label, we agree that some children diagnosed with ADHD have significant problems and need support. We contend that for each child the obligation is on teachers, doctors, parents and other adults to identify what is causing any problematic childhood behaviours and respond to each child's individual circumstances.  We also contend that it the obligation is on proponents of ADHD diagnosis and prescribing to prove their claims that ADHD is a brain disorder, and that the drugs used to treat it are safe and effective for developing brains and bodies.  So far proponents have failed to meet any of these obligations. 


[1]     Inyang Takon (2011), ‘Clinical use of a modified release methylphenidate in the treatment of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’, Annals of General Psychiatry, 10:25. Available at  (accessed 30 March 2019).

[2]     Storebo et al. 2015 Methylphenidate for children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)  (accessed 30 March 2019)

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