ADHD vs. PTSD – Are We Misdiagnosing Children?

There’s been an increase in children/students diagnosed with ADHD in more recent years, no doubt about it. According to the CDC website, about 11% of American children ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. This equals out to about 6.4 million, and that was four years ago. Numbers are only increasing.

As a future teacher, this statistic concerns me. But it also gets me thinking. A few days ago, I came across this article on ADHD vs. PTSD, “How Childhood Trauma Could be Mistaken for ADHD,” and I thought it was incredibly interesting. The highlight point of the article was that students might be misdiagnosed with ADHD when what they are really suffering from is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


The article is based on a study by Dr. Nicole Brown, who believed that the classic symptoms of ADHD: impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus could also be results of trauma. “Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive” writes author Rebecca Ruiz.

This idea interests me, especially because I’ve experienced peers and students going through emotional trauma that are often medicated, sometimes even too quickly.

I’m interested in others’ thoughts, opinions, and experiences with this topic. Please feel free to comment.

To read the original article by Rebecca Ruiz, please click here.

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