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Adult ADHD Is Real — and Still Heavily Stigmatized

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Last month, Psychiatric Times published a controversial and off-putting opinion piece titled, “The Making of Adult ADHD,”1 which calls ADHD in adulthood one of psychiatry’s “fads” in “theory, diagnosis, and treatment.” It argues, quite weakly, that adult ADHD is not a scientifically valid diagnosis; the authors instead attribute persistent symptoms to the effects of mood temperaments, which is conveniently a topic of research interest for at least one of them.The essay’s authors, psychiatrist Nassir Ghaemi, M.D. (Tufts University School of Medicine), and Mark L.

Ruffalo, MSW, DPsa (University of Central Florida College of Medicine), cite slim evidence, specifically two prospective follow-up studies of children with ADHD tracked to adulthood.

These studies, they claim, show that only 20% of subjects with childhood ADHD still have it by adulthood.The truth is that one of those cited studies, and its limitations, gave expert commentators pause when it first appeared seven years ago.2 For one, the adult sample included 18- and 19-year-old subjects, a razor-thin slice of young adulthood.

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