ADD Proposal

Attention Deficit Disorder has in the past decade had quite a bit of exposure in the mass media, especially with the concern over doctors too loosely diagnosing and prescribing ADD medication. Some people say it is a condition developed entirely as a result of modern technology such as too much television at a young age. That short attention spans can be fixed by raising our children differently and without intervention of a doctor. Another popular opinion is that ADD is a real problem and is most effectively treated with medication, sometimes heavy doses. What is the actual effectiveness of cognitive behavioral retraining therapy vs. Medication? Can one or the other be used just as effectively separately?

I am interested in this topic because I have ADD and although I have not had any formal cognitive behavioral therapy, I have worked and gone to school both on and off ADD medication. Recently, I have gone from the maximum clinical dose of an ADD medication down to a minimal “prn” or “when needed” dosage. Surprisingly, I found myself spacing out at first but then slowly adapting, eventually realizing I am more engaged and more likely to actively participate when off the medication then when on any dosage.

I know ADD is a recognized mental disorder and most significantly effects children at the most important time in their education. A number of different medications are available to treat attention deficit disorder. They fall into 2 categories: stimulant and non-stimulant. Stimulant medications are the most popular including Ritalin and Adderall. A popular non-stimulant is Strattera, often used as a supplement to Adderall or Ritalin or in their place as stimulants have a high potential for abuse and more potential serious side effects. Cognitive behavioral retraining therapy is widely used.

What I need to research is what scientific studies have been done on attention deficit disorder in regard to nature vs. nurture (is the cause of ADD genetic or a result of a child's upbringing), what factors could lead to the misdiagnosis of ADD like chronic lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and third what studies have been done comparing effectiveness of cognitive behavioral retraining therapy vs medication vs a combination of the two.

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