Health Blog

Helpful articles on mental and behavioral health


How Childhood Trauma Is Often Misdiagnosed With ADHD

September 3, 2015

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 3 million people are diagnosed with ADHD per year. ADHD diagnoses are most commonly given to young children and adolescents.

The symptoms of ADHD are vague enough that it is possible for them to be symptoms for other illnesses. Aggression and hyperactivity are the most common symptoms that people face, and the most distinguishable one arrives in a trouble with learning and paying attention at school.

Because the symptoms can often be misguided, Pediatricians are often wary of treating children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. When seeing floods of children and adolescents in her office, who had been diagnosed with ADHD, Dr. Nicole Brown had a hunch that there was a missing piece to these diagnoses.

She noticed that in her office, many of her ADHD patients were low-income. They lived in neighborhoods where there was a lot of violence and stress, and this often held true for their households as well. She began hypothesizing, and actually took it a step further to investigate.

Through her findings, she noticed that Hyper-vigilance and Disassociation, which are commonly mistaken for inattention, are also attributed to trauma. Dr. Brown’s research revealed that children had a higher tendency to normalize trauma, because they don’t understand it, or to lie about it to protect their families/friends.

Dr. Brown’s research reveals that possibly 1 million of 3 million people who are diagnosed with ADHD are actually suffering from childhood traumas. There are many ways that clinicians hypothesize how a diagnosis can be made, but none of these ways are definitive. In addition, there often isn’t a lot of time dedicated to properly understanding a child’s symptoms. However, if a child is suffering from trauma, and not just ADHD, they need additional therapy and treatment. It would take a lot of time and effort to revamp these diagnostic practices, but if 1 million traumatized children are not getting the help they need, it is worth the time and effort to make this change.

Share this article