TikTok trends or a pandemic? What is behind the increase in ADHD diagnoses? Lack of attention is a disorder of hyperactivity

Dani Donovan barely published a life-changing illustration: she translated her ADHD-additional narrative style into a 12-point block diagram.

when he released him Entering the Twittersphere in December 2018, he thought few people would see it. Instead, the post went viral “almost instantly” and garnered more than 100 million views on social media channels. More than a year later, he left his corporate graphic design job to work full-time on ADHD comics.

Donovan, now 31, has become a big doyen in the expanding arena of ADHD sufferers, which was almost non-existent when he shared his inauguration post three and a half years ago.

ADHD, or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, has been going on for some time. Videos labeled #ADHD have been viewed more than 11 billion times on TickTock. Most of the creators are people in their twenties and thirties, who have impaired executive function, and their symptoms often include difficulty in concentrating and regulating emotions. Some clinicians use their platforms to correct misconceptions (and refuse to diagnose on their own). All in all, they place it in an ever-expanding audience.

This trend has been increasing for more than a decade in adults diagnosed with ADHD. The steady rise in adolescent ADHD has already been a source of concern (and a source of concern). However, from 2007 to 2016, the incidence of ADHD in adults in the United States increased by 123%, far exceeding the growth rate of cases in children and adolescents. In the mid-2010s, adults replaced children as the main market for ADHD drugs.

Photo: Kelly Donovan

There are some anecdotal indications that this phenomenon is at least slowing down during the pandemic and is likely to accelerate. In a survey published by ADDitude magazine in March, more than a quarter of the 2,365 adult readers of the ADHD-focused publication said they had been officially diagnosed with ADHD in the past year. SingleCare online pharmacy has seen a 16% increase in prescriptions for Adderall in general from the beginning of last year to the beginning of 2022, which is a popular ADHD stimulant drug.

Some link this pattern to social media. Donovan confirms this with his own words, having received more than 1,000 reports from people who have undergone a clinical evaluation and been diagnosed with its contents. The decade-long Reddit page r / ADHD has grown from 643,000 subscribers in March 2020 to more than 1.4 million today, an increase in interest in ADHD that coincides with the pandemic (unless necessarily diagnosed). However, the escalation of the chaos is not a fashion caused by excessive exposure to social media, but the intertwining of different cultural and diagnostic threads, each of which is intertwined. ADHD is the clash of age with science and society and the dissatisfaction of everyone.

It helps to break things down. ADHD is available as a clinical diagnosis of neuronal developmental disorders with known anatomical correlations (consider smaller amygdalas and hippocampuses in the brain) and ADHD would be of great benefit to the pharmaceutical industry. Then there is #ADHD as an algorithmic content stimulus and experience confirmation.

“One thing that makes ADHD a unique diagnosis in some way is the social benefits of a diagnosis that you don’t always see for other mental health problems,” says clinical psychologist and researcher Dr. Margaret Sibley. With ADHD. “People can be diagnosed with ADHD at school or at work, and as a result, their responsibilities are reduced, or they are provided with housing for testing, and so on. When you have these benefits, you will have a variety of consumers. ”

In other words, ADHD can give people some degree of compassion to fall short of productivity expectations, which impairs the basic capabilities of most people. To this end, the pandemic may have provided even more incentive to seek a diagnosis of ADHD. When Covid-19 began, many people were suddenly unable to read books or send e-mails, and their mood was incomplete and uncharacteristic. This phenomenon is so obvious and widespread that it has joined the media sub-genre of psychological persuaders, assuring readers that cognitive strength is expected to decline in response to the “non-existent” challenges of the time.

The striking coincidence between the symptoms of ADHD and the “pandemic brain” of the garden species only creates general misunderstandings of the former. Simply put, ADHD is similar to and sounds like a struggle that defines the daily work processes of many people, and they are often separated by push alerts and digital dopamine hits. World Health Organization do not Problems with multiple tasks or assignments? and who does not Are you struggling with the urge to pulse-rip social media in any afternoon especially boring moments? Over the past two years, these challenges have become even more apparent.

However, whether or not ADHD is actively over-diagnosed is a separate question, and there are no simple answers. Two things are clear. First, studies have shown that ADHD is not an obvious disorder that a person has or does not have, but a set of problems that occur in the spectrum of the disorder. According to Sibley, strict standards of psychiatric assessment should be able to detect the presence of certain symptoms of ADHD with the clinical manifestations of the disorder.

The second fact – stimulant drugs prescribed for the treatment of ADHD are highly controversial. Skeptics point out that drugs like Adderall and Vyvanse are effective, speed-regulated doses by the industry. Whether or not everyone diagnosed with ADHD has the disease, it can be seen that the productivity of most people has improved from the medications prescribed to treat it.

As a result, Sibli is often described as a “philosophical controversy,” but covered in security language.

“You can ask yourself the same question about people who use steroids in sports,” says Sibli. “People can bear the pros and cons, but in the end it’s about what people value more than safety, because you can safely administer stimulants to anyone, even someone without ADHD.”

Despite the controversy, diagnoses of ADHD – and medications to treat the disease – have become easier to obtain during a pandemic. Social exclusion measures have previously removed legal barriers to remote providers from prescribing controlled substances and classes of drugs containing many ADHD drugs. This has allowed a number of venture telemedicine startups to expand their regulations and direct some to diagnose ADHD and prescribe medications to treat it.

The shift did not go unnoticed. The same algorithmic mechanisms increase the visibility of #ADHD TikToks and Instagram memes, as well as disseminate ADHD treatment recommendations from startups with control titles such as Klarity, Done and Cerebral. Advertising for these companies has become an inevitable window for many people’s social media channels.

But the reversal is happening. In late April, the former CEB manager filed a labor lawsuit against his former employer, claiming that the company had been fired for overdosing on medications for ADHD and expressing concern that “benefits and growth outweigh patient safety”. In recent weeks, an increasing number of online pharmacies and brick pharmacy chains have stopped filling prescriptions for controlled substances such as Adderall.

A bowl of white tablets is washed in blue.
The pandemic has removed legal barriers that previously restricted the prescribing of controlled substances such as Adderall to remote providers. Photo: JB Reed / Bloomberg News

The big fuss about stimulant drugs creates a misleading picture of what some patients really want or need. In the early 1940s, Joy Hui Lin, a freelance journalist in southern California, said, “The thing is, medicine is not a panacea.” “You need a structure.”

Hui Lin was diagnosed about five years ago, after acknowledging her struggle in an article about women’s ADHD. He soon learned that ADHD was often misdiagnosed or ignored in girls and women, especially girls of color, because of gender social expectations and social bias.

What he included in his character’s shortcomings turned out to be the textbook’s signs of this disorder. He also realized that while medications were helpful, he benefited most from implementing routines and processes to help him perform his daily tasks.

Cindy Noir, a 26-year-old social media content creator based in Dallas, has a similar advantage. Last summer, a licensed psychotherapist contacted Noir after seeing a live stream of TikTok, where Noir said he found it difficult to do housework and convey ideas at a fast-paced pace. The therapist was unable to give Noir an official diagnosis of ADHD through a single phone call and e-mail exchange, but Noir expressed the view that he met the diagnostic criteria for the disease and offered to evaluate it.

“Unfortunately, she said as a woman and as a minority, in fact, being diagnosed with ADHD is one of the biggest struggles because they define your symptoms as something other than ADHD,” says Black Nuir. Eventually, he refused formal assessment or pharmaceutical treatment for ADHD due to a lack of health insurance, but says his life has improved from adopting organizational strategies such as compiling a list of recommended activities for patients with ADHD and making electronic alerts. He feels in control and in control.

The main controversy is often overlooked that most people try to do their best with the resources at their disposal. Given the immoral landscape of the commercial health care system, the abuse of vulnerabilities by companies deserves scrutiny. However, it seems unfair to deny the benefits that people get from a diagnosis of ADHD or from social media content that confirms and supports their efforts to live life to the fullest.

Donovan, an ADHD comic book artist, says, “I see that the relief and the things that belong to him are starting to come from people who feel like they can’t fit in anything.” “They found this space and said, ‘Oh, okay, these are my people.’ These are my people. “

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