ADHD Science: Why don’t French kids have ADHD?

In the United States around 9% of people are diagnosed with ADHD while only 0.5% of children in France are diagnosed with the same disorder. Why is it that the US has 1800% more children diagnosed with ADHD?

In the US, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder whereas French child psychiatrists view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. This results in the different treatments for the same disorder.

In the US, the preferred treatment is also biological—psychostimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are used — while in France doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that cause the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling.

U.S. clinicians tend to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children’s behavior whereas in France this is given immense importance. This, however, is only one of the many cultural divides between the Americans and the French, many of which can have diverse and lasting impacts.

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