The increased demand for ADHD drugs is straining the US health care system

The increased demand for ADHD drugs is straining the US health care system

Stories about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, have resurfaced in the social media zeitgeist over the past few years, and that could lead more people to seek a diagnosis for the condition.

“Many of my patients would hold their phone up to the camera and say, ‘Here’s this video I saw on TikTok and this is why I have ADHD,'” said Dr. Sasha Hamdani. She is a psychiatrist and ADHD expert, and is also a creator of content about the condition with more than 800,000 followers on TikTok.

Hamdani estimates that about 50% of patients who inquire about the condition actually receive an HDHD diagnosis.

ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions have been on the rise in all age groups since the days before social media. The number of ADHD diagnoses in 2010 was almost five times what they were in 1999. And between 2007 and 2016, the no the diagnosis of ADHD in adults has more than doubled.

“Certainly the effects of the pandemic are clear in terms of increased stress, but also the advent of telehealth has brought more access to more people and brought more people to treatment,” said Dr. Lenard Adler, director of the Adult ADHD Program. at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “I don’t think we have a clear answer, but certainly the number of prescriptions for ADHD drugs has increased in the last few years.”

Social media content can be a problematic source of health information. One media analysis of popular TikTok videos found this out approximately half of the selected videos contained misleading or potential misinformation.

“I think heightened awareness is always what I would call a double-edged sword,” said Dr. Anthony Yeung, a psychiatrist at St. Paul’s in Vancouver, British Columbia, and one of the authors of the study. “I think we’ve definitely moved into an area of ​​conversation about mental health that’s really positive. There’s a lot less stigma.”

“However, the other side of this double-edged sword is that sometimes if we talk about mental health symptoms or diagnoses, we risk again misinterpreting things that are on the spectrum of normal as pathological,” Yeung said.

This influx of people seeking treatment at once can cause a supply and demand problem.

“What I see in my practice is we have a six-month waiting list to get in. And we’re incredibly busy,” Adler said. “Some of that stems from the pandemic, but I think there’s a general need for services right now.”

Some people may start self-diagnosing if they cannot access treatment, which can be expensive.

“One of the challenges with self-diagnosis is that it can cause increased anxiety in individuals,” Yeung said. “When people talk about symptoms online, sometimes those symptoms may not actually necessarily represent a particular disease or disorder, but it can be talked about in such a way that anyone watching that video could actually see it and think they have that diagnosis. “

This bottleneck does not only apply to visits to the doctor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced in October that there was a shortage of both brand and generic Adderall in the US

“Logistically, it’s been a nightmare for patients and providers,” Hamdani said. “[Stimulant medications] are so highly controlled, you can’t just transfer it [to a different pharmacy]. You must cancel the script. Then you have to find another pharmacy that has it. By then it may not be filled because other people have filled it there. There are a lot of logistical changes and work on that front. And that’s extremely frustrating for the patient.”

Watch video above to learn more about the rise of ADHD in the United States and whether the healthcare system can handle the increase in demand.

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