HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina has one of the highest rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also called ADHD, according to the CDC. A new report claims the drugs used to treat the disorder are prescribed more than any other medication in South Carolina.
Experts say the number of ADHD diagnoses are rising, but the true cause of this is unclear.
Medical Director of Inpatient Pediatric Services at Grand Strand Medical Center Dr. David Rosenberg said between 2003 to 2011, ADHD was one of the most common diagnoses in children. He also said doctors diagnosing it has dramatically increased over time. He said a possible reason could be because people are more aware of it.
There are a number of therapies offered for ADHD. The most commonly prescribed is Adderall, a form of methamphetamine. However, Rosenberg said ideally, it's a combination of behavioral modification therapy and medication. He said treatment varies for everyone because the disorder is assessed on a wide spectrum.
Dr. Rosenberg said ADHD can affect people at every stage of life, and providers need to be careful by doing a full assessment when diagnosing a patient.
"I think that yes, we know that patients that truly have ADHD do benefit in many cases from medications, in addition to behavioral therapy. I think we have to be careful as healthcare providers to make sure, myself being a pediatrician for example, to diagnose a patient with doing a full assessment, and that assessment would include examining the child carefully. Getting history from the parents, certainly before prescribing medication. We also have to be careful because many parents expect their children to be put on medication, and not many parents but you may get someone from the school system contacting the family saying your child is difficult to manage in school," said Rosenberg.
"I think as a healthcare provider, I'm always very conscious of the risk and the benefits of any therapy that I provide. Any medications and all medications have potential side effects, so you have to look at in the individual patients, the benefit of giving his medications verse the possible side effects. We do know that in particular with the methamphetamines… that overtime there is a small increase in heart rate there is a small increase in blood pressure," said Rosenberg.
End of semester finals usually means intense pressure for many students and some turn to what's often referred to as "smart pills."
Those smart pills are prescription stimulants supposed to be for those who suffer from ADHD, but used by many young people in search of increased focus and stamina.
Dr. Marcinkowska with Family Medicine said she's noticed an uptick of people claiming they have ADHD and request medication, when often they don't have the disorder and don't need medication. She said it's mostly college students.
ADHD is a developmental disorder. Some core symptoms are lack of attention, difficulty managing day-to-day living, hyperactivity and impulsivity. However, experts say signs of ADHD vary among people and each case requires different treatment methods.
"In my opinion, medication is the last resort and very, very small percentage of people really require medication. In my opinion, we need to concentrate first on behavioral modification, life change modification, the tools, how to improve attention, how to be more organized, because as we know we are getting less focused if we are less organized… we are distracted. The modern devices, smartphones, the apps we have…they create a big dose of stress and distraction," said Marcinkowska.
Dr. Marcinkowska said she blames the usage of modern technology, and these constant distractions are hindering young minds from focusing and staying on task.