Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sleep Issues Are Being Misdiagnosed as ADHD and other Mental Illnesses

It was over 3 years ago that I wrote Is It ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?, but for some reason in the U.S.A. the psychiatric community is slow to act like the real medical doctors (MDs) they ARE.  Many still are not looking for WHY a child is exhibiting symptoms we label "ADHD." Instead, they simply slap on the label itself, which only serves to say, "This child exhibits attentional difficulties and possibly hyperactivity." That simple "mental" illness label, eliminates all their obligation to investigate the true underlying cause of any particular child's symptoms.

One of the things so many of us have been saying is that SLEEP issues (ranging from sleep apnea to narcolepsy or even just staying up a little too late) can contribute to or even cause psychiatric symptoms that are getting diagnosed as many kinds of "mental illness" ranging from Depression and ADHD to Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia!

At least even the U.S. mainstream newspapers are starting to warn people that many of these increasingly numerous "ADHD" (and Depression) diagnoses we and our children are getting may actually be manifestations of SLEEP-related issues.

Our local newspaper recently had an article titled "Sleep Disorders Might Spur ADHD Diagnoses." In fact, according to the research (see Attention Problems May Be Sleep-Related in the New York Times) even missing out on a mere 30 minutes per night of needed sleep can result in "ADHD" symptoms. The problems can stem from simply staying up a tad too late or having enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils.

This  is NOT ADHD!!! It is not getting enough good quality sleep! Still, these children, based on behavioral "symptoms" get diagnosed with ADHD and treated with stimulants, which can then create a vicious cycle. After all, the diagnosis of "ADHD" is NOT based on underlying pathology, but rather, on symptoms. 

Dr. Karen Bonuk, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York (see video below about Sleep-disordered breathing) says,
"It's incredible that we don't screen for sleep problems the way we screen for vision and hearing."
Back at the beginning of 2011 (see Children's Sleep Disorders Can Go Undiagnosed) Dr. Lewis Kass, MD warned:  
Research began trickling in the late 1990s that demonstrated a clear link between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and neurocognitive deficits.  Research shows that 15 to 65 percent of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have underlying sleep disorders. Among the most common causes of sleep problems in children are obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, restless legs syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux or narcolepsy.
And it isn't just "mental" illness symptoms that sleep issues can create. Missing out on quality sleep even increases risk of diabetes, which in turn increases risk of a host of related problems! (See: Beyond drowsy, too little sleep ups diabetes risk.)

Readers of my book It's Not Mental already know this. They know how unbelievable it was that nobody even thought to suggest a sleep study for my little girl until we got a new GP when she was sixteen years old, and yet her sleep issues had begun in infancy! They also know how doctors insisted even her symptoms of a sleep disorder called "Kleine Levin Syndrome" must be "Depression" and had us raise an antidepressant medication. Depression was not the ILLNESS.

And... How bad can these symptoms get?
Listen here! Audio: Child Hears Voices and Has Tactile, Pain Hallucinations.

Note that when those psychotic symptoms (in the audio) occurred, the child was on a stimulant for a supposed "ADHD" she did not really have. What is even more disturbing is the use (and abuse) of these stimulants become self-perpetuating since adults think they are no big deal since, after all, "they are given to children, so they MUST be safe, right?"

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Last Updated:   21 April 2012


Unknown said...

I was wondering how brain waves are read? what does the mountains mean?

Jeanie said...

Nicole, They are looking for regular and irregular patterns of electrical activity from the brain and that is what the EEG measures - electrical activity. They know when there is a seizure, deep sleep, or dreams from those waves. By "mountains" perhaps you mean spikes in electrical activity.

For the varous meanings of these spikes in electrical activity during sleep, do an Internet search on "EEG SPIKES"

Unknown said...

Happy to be here once again now with a TESTIMONY, I remember i was once here in need of help on how to go about the problem of SCHIZOPHRENIA, which my son was having, i must say those years were so frustrating, the experience was something outside the world of my son being abnormal, my wife had to join me in search of various kind of help, and the search lasted for some time before we came across a Doc. specialist with his medication and his advice on what to stay clear off and how to approach the problem, which we did and still praying and up to this moment am still thinking this all some very big dream that everything is actually back to normal. I am glad to have my son back. So i am recommending all those who are currently in the condition/problem to contact Doctor at