Overdiagnosis of ADHD in Quebec

Overdiagnosis of ADHD in Quebec
Overdiagnosis of ADHD in Quebec

Prescriptions of drugs to counter the effects of attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) are constantly increasing among those under 25 in Quebec and remain much higher than in the rest of the world.

Marie-Christine Brault, professor of sociology and co-holder of the Research Chair on the Living Conditions, Health, Adaptation and Aspirations of Young People at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (UQAC), can attest to this.

She surveyed schools in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, then those in a region in Belgium, Flanders. To illustrate her point, she isolated the students from the third year of primary school.

“We have 18% of the children in my sample who are identified as ADHD while in Flemish Belgium, it is 2%, she revealed. This social problem was created at the same time by the school, by the parents and by the doctors. “

The National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services carried out another study in this direction in 2019. With 14.2% of those aged 25 and under who received a prescription for medication to counter the effects of ADHD, the Saguenay- Lac-Saint-Jean is at the top of the list.

Mauricie and Center-du-Québec rank fifth, with 11.6%. Both ahead of the greater Montreal area, which is more at 3.1%.

Bad diagnoses

According to Ms. Brault, this gap with Montreal may be linked to the proportion of ethnic minorities who, again according to her, are less likely to seek a psychiatric diagnosis. She also believes that some of the children diagnosed should not have been.

“We must make sure that we do not treat a child with pills when he has another problem,” added Shawinigan family doctor, Dr Frédéric Picotte.

Yet a misdiagnosis has consequences. According to Dr. Picotte, the child is at risk of developing symptoms of restlessness, anxiety, palpitations, sleep problems or even appetite problems, sometimes leading to weight loss.

The best equipped to analyze the behavior of a child are neuropsychologists according to him. But difficult to get a consultation.

“Neuropsychologists do more extensive tests, but often you have to go to the private sector and that generates costs of $ 1,000, sometimes $ 1,500,” he explained.

Medication is just one part of treatment to counter the effects of ADHD. Physical activities or behavioral therapies may also be considered before arriving at the medication.

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