Thursday, May 1, 2014


A recent report on field trials of DSM-5, reports that the results "support" the validity of the new official APA manual compared to the earlier DSM-IV manual, because DSM-5 identified more ADHD children. (see  Approximately  10.84% in DSM-5 vs 7.38% in the earlier version were identified using a structured parent interview. The main source of the difference appears to be the change in the required age of onset of ADHD from age 7 to age 12.

The leader of the study, Kathleen Merikangas is a well-known epidemiologist at NIMH, but remarkably she chose to see the higher recognition rate as a plus, whereas early criticism of this change had universally feared that it would open the gates to more false diagnoses of ADHD.

Although this trial was for children age 12 to 15, one can well imagine the profound impact the greater recognition will mean for adult ADHD as well. Now the requirement that diagnosis find significant pathology at age 7 or younger no longer applies. Children 12 years or older with conduct disorders or oppositional defiant disorder will now find an easier path to an ADHD diagnosis.

The fear that such early information for age 7 or younger would be difficult to obtain is greatly exaggerated; we seldom had trouble obtaining such information from the patient or from relatives or significant others. Parents are often still available for older patients, and the profound effects upon the early years of the patient are seldom forgotten by the patient themselves.

The greatest beneficiaries of the DSM-5 changes in age of onset criterion for diagnosis of ADHD will be pharmaceutical sales of stimulant drugs.