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ADHD Cases on the Rise Worldwide

Update Date: Nov 10, 2015 09:39 AM EST

Diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder continue to increase around the globe but the general public's understanding of this serious mental illness is sorely lacking.

The increase in the prevalence of ADHD can be seen in shocking increases in places like Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom, according to The New York Times. In Germany, from 1989 to 2001, diagnoses of ADHD increased a whopping 381 percent, shocking that country's medical establishment. In Israel, the use of ADHD medicine doubled from 2005 to 2012 while the United Kingdom saw prescriptions for medicines used to treat the illness increase more than 50 percent in five years between 2007 and 2012.

ADHD has long been a feature of high school classrooms and medical discussions in the United States for the better part of two decades, but the increased focus on the disease abroad is a new feature.

The Times notes that in 2007 only 17 percent of the world's Ritalin, a common and popular treatment for ADHD, was consumed outside of the United States. That figure had ballooned to 34 percent by 2012.

Discussion of ADHD abroad have also tended to closely mirror those that took place when the disease first gained widespread notice in the United States. Many believe it is not actually a disease at all, but an attempt to diagnose the typical mischief and short attention spans that define young children, and in particular boys.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that the drugs used to treat ADHD are stimulants that impact people without the condition similarly to cocaine. In some countries, such as Georgia, the primary treatments aren't even legal.

At the same time however, stories abound of parents and children whose lives were in chaos until they received the diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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