ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders, although it is difficult to refer to exact figures since many cases are never diagnosed. In fact, even today, many people discover that they suffer from ADHD when they diagnose their children.
The incidence figures of ADHD worldwide they range between 5% and 20%, which means that there could be about 6.4 million children with this disorder. However, the most curious thing is that the number of cases has varied over time. Statistics indicate that from 1997 to 2006, diagnosed cases have increased at a rate of 3% per year. However, from 2003 to 2011, the average has increased by 5% per year.
Some specialists believe that the increase in cases may be due to a greater number of people has access to medical services and the fact that diagnostic criteria have been perfected over time. However, others believe that it is a problem of overdiagnosis, in which case there would be many children who In reality, they would not meet the criteria for having ADHD.
In this sense, the case of France is curious. According to a report published by the High Authority for Health, in this country the incidence of ADHD is 0.5%, a figure that is well below the world and European average. Why?
The explanation can be found in the diagnostic criteria that are applied. In the DSM-IV and the ICD-10, which are the main diagnostic manuals that have been in force in the world of Psychology and Psychiatry in recent years, the diagnostic criteria for ADHD are practically identical, but the same does not occur with the diagnostic codes. In fact, the DSM-IV only requires six symptoms of inattention or six symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity to reach a diagnosis, while the ICD-10 has a stricter diagnostic criteria, according to which at least six symptoms of inattention must be present, at least three of hyperactivity and at least one of impulsivity.
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What is the situation in Spain?
It is estimated that between 3 and 7% of children in Spain suffer from ADHD, which is equivalent to one or two children per classroom. However, the figures vary from one region to another. For example, it is estimated that in Seville the prevalence is between 4 and 6%, while in Valencia the figures rise to 8% and in the Canary Islands they are 4.9%. In reality, it is not a question of whether there are more or fewer children with ADHD, but of factors such as access to the health system, the diagnostic criteria that are applied, and the cultural guidelines of the parents.
When ADHD it doesn’t come alone
Unfortunately, ADHD almost never comes alone but is accompanied by other disorders. Statistics indicate that:
- More than 50% of children also suffer from oppositional defiant disorder.
- Between 30 – 50% have conduct disorder.
- Between 20 – 30% develop affective disorders, including depression.
- 25% of children suffer from anxiety disorders.
- More than 20 % have learning problems.
- Between 18 – 25% of children are diagnosed in adulthood with a personality disorder.
- 18% suffer from Tourette syndrome.
The good news is that in recent years much progress has been made in the treatment of ADHD so that this disorder can be managed in childhood and to avoid greater evils. Cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective, especially when combined with medication.