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Startups prescribing ADHD drugs on TikTok raise diagnostic issues


These conversations have created the perfect environment for mental health companies to advertise, said Olivia Little, senior researcher at the nonprofit Media Matters for America. On TikTok, in particular, companies jumped on viral trends, using popular sounds and memes in ads that often oversimplified the complex symptoms of ADHD, Ms Little added.

“They’ll say things like, ‘Have you ever felt overwhelmed?’ “Have you ever wanted to do your homework? Very basic, universal things,” she said. “Just answer a short quiz. And you’ll be connected to a team of mental health professionals,” read one of Cerebral’s ads.

“I can’t tell you how much content I’ve seen where someone is describing ADHD, and it’s not really ADHD,” Dr. Sibley said. These representations of the disorder cause people to identify with the diagnosis, she says, even if they don’t meet the clinical criteria for ADHD.

There are 18 symptoms of ADHD, and in adults these can include frequently losing your keys or phone or having trouble following a conversation at work. The average person meets at least one or two of these criteria, Dr. Sibley said, but the symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily life in order to accurately receive an ADHD diagnosis. Children up to age 16 must have six or more inattentive symptoms or six or more hyperactive-impulsive symptoms; those 17 or older must have five symptoms in either category.

The majority of patients who are prescribed ADHD medications will take stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, Dr. Sibley said. The federal government classifies these drugs as controlled substances because of their potential for abuse and addiction.

When people who don’t actually have ADHD take these drugs, Dr. Stutzman said, they can “absolutely have health consequences,” including appetite suppression, cardiovascular problems, and dangerous changes in blood pressure. arterial.

There are a few things patients should look for to ensure they get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for ADHD A physical exam should be part of the diagnostic process, Dr. Sibley said, because problems with thyroid, heart problems, concussions and other conditions could cause cognitive challenges that mimic ADHD symptoms

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