A new study sheds light on ADHD, reporting teens with the disorder fit into one of three specific subgroups with distinct brain impairments and no common abnormalities between them.
I have long decried the maniacal overdiagnosis of ADHD by my colleagues. Of course, this leads to massive overprescribing of stimulant medication. In a bit of circular reasoning, the fact that someone’s mood or functioning often improves when they take stimulants is taken as confirmation of the diagnosis, ignoring the fact that almost anyone feels better when they take these medications. Furthermore, if a diagnosis represents a heterogeneous category, a medication which helps one subgroup may be seen as beneficial overall just by a statistical effect. It has long been clear to me that the ADHD diagnosis is used to explain a variety of unrelated difficulties in very different individuals; now there is some empirical confirmation. And let this stand as a broader challenge to one-size-fits-all diagnosis in psychiatry!