Misdiagnosis: a complication in itself

According to statistics gathered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 13 to 20 percent of children living in America are living with a mental disorder. This means almost one out of every five children living in America currently is affected by some type of mental disorder.

All these children have to go about their lives dealing with the symptoms of these various disorders, and many have been misdiagnosed with the improper disorder leading to complications during their treatment. With children, these disorders are often diagnosed early in their school days, so getting the diagnosis wrong for these children at such an early age can really do them a lot of harm.

“I feel misdiagnoses happen so often for a variety of reasons,” junior psychology major Robert Burns said. “First off, many mental disorders share many common symptoms and many are known to be co-morbid.”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, when a disease is co-morbid it means that “it can exist simultaneously and usually independent of another medical condition.” One of the most common disorders where this situation arises is with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or as it is most commonly known as ADHD.

ADHD is usually diagnosed in children who have trouble paying attention in school and may act in an impulsive manner. ADHD shares similar symptoms with other mental disorders such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because these disorders share so many of the same symptoms, it is actually quite common for a medical professional to say a child may be suffering from ADHD when they may actually have PTSD.

Deyna Montes, who is a neurology major at the University of San Diego, stated that these misdiagnoses can really set children back.

“A correct diagnosis is the first step in sufficiently treating a person,” Montes said. “Because some kids do not get the correct form of medical attention, these wrong types of treatment for their particular disease do more harm than good often time for the children.”

When the treatment process gets started off on the wrong foot it can do a lot more harm than good when concerning the child. As of 2013, according to reports from the CDC nearly 11 percent of the nation’s population from ages four to seventeen had been diagnosed with ADHD which would add up to about 6.4 million children. And of that percentage of the population studies done by researchers at Michigan State University show that nearly one million of those children have been misdiagnosed.

To avoid misdiagnosis it is important to be an educated patient and do some research of your own. If you believe something isn’t adding up it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion. It’s more important to get the correct treatment than to just get treatment quickly.

To answer any more questions you may have on mental health please refer to www.mentalhealth.gov or www.cdc.gov.


Alix Moise

Published October 29, 2014