Patients who report to clinicians suffering from unresolved depression, anxiety or addiction could soon be given Ritalin-style drugs, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP).
Delegates at the RCN’s annual meeting in London heard that significant numbers of such patients may have been wrongly diagnosed when they are actually suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Once correctly diagnosed, adult ADHD sufferers could benefit from soon-to-be prescribed Ritalin-style stimulant medications for a range of mental health problems that are not usually associated with the disorder, argued Professor Phillip Asherson.
The professor of molecular psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, told the meeting: “Most frequently, adults with ADHD are diagnosed with chronic and persistent depression and anxiety, difficult-to-treat alcohol and drug addiction and personality disorders.
“We don’t yet know whether these co-existing disorders are separate problems or whether these people are actually suffering from a form of ADHD that is presenting in a different way from the normal symptoms. It could be that many people are being diagnosed as having a separate disorder when in fact they have got ADHD.”
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is expected to recommend that stimulant medication can be prescribed to adults with ADHD in September. It is currently only licensed for children but this is set to change in the light of recognition that the condition persists into adulthood in about 20% of cases.
While ADHD symptoms in children include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, the condition in adults is associated with a much wider range of co-existing mental health problems.
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