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News & Views - Aug, 1995 Issue #35 

By Devereux Texas Treatment Network
Toby Tuffly, Marketing Specialist 
(713) 335-1000

(Devereux Texas Treatment Network is a not-for-profit organization that is part of a nationwide network of programs treating individuals of all ages who have a wide range of emotional disorders and developmental disabilities).

LEAGUE CITY, Texas: July 28, 1995 -- While Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) seems to be the diagnosis of the month, there is increasing evidence that many children diagnosed with ADHD are actually depressed. 

Dr. L. Gene Hornsby, executive medical director of Devereux Texas Treatment Network in League City and director of the child and adolescent psychiatry division at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, says that approximately 60 percent of the children he and his staff have treated have been misdiagnosed with ADHD -- they were actually depressed. 

"One of the reasons we are seeing such a high number of misdiagnosed children is because when children are depressed they often behave in a agitated manner, which can be mistaken for hyperactivity," said Hornsby. "Parents and physicians must look beyond superficial behavior and look at family history for depression, as well as other behaviors, especially sleep disturbances." 

According to Hornsby, if treatment for ADHD fails, parents should get a second opinion from a psychiatrist or psychologist who has extensive training in diagnosing and treating childhood disorders. 

"If a child is misdiagnosed with ADHD, the medication treatment will work for a short time," explains Hornsby. "When medication treatment becomes ineffective, parents should have their child tested by child psychiatrist or a psychologist who specializes in developmental disorders and/or child neuropsychology. Don't go to the professional with the biggest ad." 

Hornsby emphasizes that parents should monitor their child's response to medication treatment. When medication treatment becomes ineffective, parents should seek a second opinion as opposed to increasing the dosage, which could result in toxic levels of medication. Hornsby suggests that if a parent is beginning the process of diagnosing a child that is suspected of having ADHD, they should remember that ADHD is comprised of three disorders: 

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): Symptoms include an inability to pay attention for more than a few minutes. One of the first signs of ADD is poor school performance because the child can't sustain attention long enough to complete specific tasks in school. ADD is usually diagnosed after five years of age. 

Hyperactivity: Is evidenced by constant moving and an inability to sit still. The child's attention is not affected -- they are able to pay attention to something for an extended period of time, they just can't sit still. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): ADHD is a combination of ADD and hyperactivity. It is recognized by an inability to pay attention and sit still. Other symptoms include impulsive behavior, aggressive outbursts, and defiance. 

Treatment for ADD and ADHD include providing the child with a structured routine, minimal distractions while sleeping and studying, and often medication. 

For more information on ADHD, ADD and other childhood disorders, please call Devereux Texas Treatment Network at (713)332-8608. 

Copyright 1995, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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