Why are there almost six-and-a-half million US children currently diagnosed with ADHD? One possibility suggested by Dr Nicole Brown, a paediatrician at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NYC, is that the symptoms clinicians often associate with ADHD are in fact manifestations of childhood trauma.
According to a report in The Atlantic, Brown tested her hypothesis by analysing the results of a national survey about the health and well-being of more than 65,000 children.
She found that, ‘children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse.’ Moreover, ‘Those who endured four or more adverse childhood events were three times more likely to use ADHD medication.’
Interpreting the results is tricky, as the report says. But it argues that if trauma is behind a child’s behaviour then ADHD medication is not the answer. As Brown says, whatever the causal relationship ‘We need to think more carefully about screening for trauma and designing a more trauma-informed treatment plan.’