I have just attended the second day of the annual conference of the General and Community Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. There was a debate today on the motion that adult ADHD is an example of the over-medicalisation of everyday life. Perhaps surprisingly, the majority present voted in favour of the motion.
When I trained, adult ADHD was never mentioned - it's a relatively new concept, gaining popularity in the 1990s. Many psychiatrists don't feel happy diagnosing a condition in adults that they were taught children generally grow out of. There may be problems with diagnosing children, mainly boys, as hyperactive (eg. see my eletter), but it is even more problematic to recognise ADHD later in life, the majority identified being females. Interestingly enough, the majority of British psychiatrists seem to share these concerns. The diagnosis of adult ADHD has been led by the Americans, and it has been said that it is the most common undiagnosed chronic psychiatric disorder in adults (see my BMJ article). British psychiatrists are following their lead in diagnosing it more commonly.
The point I'm making is that psychiatry doesn't seem to be in control of this development. The majority of psychiatrists, at least British ones, have reservations, but they don't seem to express them. There is a problem with voicing concerns about such trends for fear of being labelled as anti-psychiatry (see eg. previous post). We need to encourage a more open debate on issues within psychiatry.