Children with Depression or ADHD Not Free from Stigma

Children with depression or ADHD face stigma surrounding their diagnoses and treatments.

Tuesday May 1st - 8:29am

Children with depression or ADHD must grapple with the challenge of an illness - as well as stigma surrounding the diagnoses and their treatments. Among the Indiana University study's key findings,

  • 66 percent of respondents said that psychiatric medications simply "delayed solving the 'real' behavior-related problems"
  • 86 percent said doctors overmedicate children for common behavior problems
  • 40 percent of respondents believed children with depression posed danger to others
  • 31 percent believed children with ADHD posed danger to others
  • 64 percent said they had heard of ADHD, but only 46 percent of these respondents were able to describe symptoms, causes, or name medications used to treat it. The study found that men, people of color, and people with less education were less likely to recognize ADHD. Lack of knowledge about this condition hurts the children who actually have ADHD as well as the children who are mislabeled, said IUB sociology professor Jane McLeod, lead of the ADHD analysis.

These common misperceptions influence the advice people get from their friends, family, and even their doctors. They can lead to reluctance to seek help for a child in need, and deal a blow to a child's self-esteem.

"We see a kinder response toward children than adults with mental health problems," said IU sociologist Bernice Pescosolido. "However, the concerns about children's identity and opportunities being spoiled because they had challenges that could be helped by mental health treatment signal delays in treatment, misinformation and stigma."

The study was published in the May 2007 issue of Psychiatric Services.

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