W1 Activity: ADHD

My definition of health is being psychologically/emotionally, socially, and physically well balanced and able to maintain an active and happy lifestyle. Illness is an imbalance, whether it be mentally or physically, and reflects an abnormality in the body that is mostly detectable by the individual rather than by a medical professional. I, for example, am not entirely healthy; I exist somewhere in the middle of my definitions of health and illness. I do not exercise regularly, often lack a proper diet due to my overwhelmingly busy schedule, have asthma, and are required to take daily medication to regulate my ADHD. However, I do maintain a healthy social life and am happy. My criteria come from a mixture of American standards of health – diet, exercise, etc – and what my family values – happiness, psychological health, and being well loved.

For this activity, I chose ADHD and asthma, two conditions that I personally deal with on a daily basis. Before I received my diagnosis and began treatment for my ADHD, I felt like something was wrong with the way I thought and behaved. I lacked impulse control, couldn’t sit still, and felt overwhelmed when exposed to too much stimulus. I was quick to emotion and couldn’t focus on much of anything – I spent most of my high school career drawing rather than taking notes or participating. Based on my knowledge of this condition and my definition for disease and illness, I would classify this as more of an illness, though I would like to classify it as a disease as it displays symptoms, has treatment, and is a reoccurring problem that can be debilitating to someone’s productivity and life. Ultimately, illness is my choice for ADHD as it is a mostly internal experience that is not always detectable. 
Asthma is a disease, albeit a controllable one. There is a physical reaction to various types of stimuli that result in the shrinking or constriction of the bronchial tubes leading to difficulty breathing and sometimes death. This can be treated with medication and is a well accepted disease.

3 thoughts on “W1 Activity: ADHD

  1. Hi Linsey,

    I found what you had to say about ADHD very interesting. I have many friends who also have ADHD but it was very interesting and eye opening to read how you explained how you feel with ADHD. I agree with you that there are many symptoms with ADHD and I think the only reason that we tend to call it an illness and not a disease is because the symptoms are not ones that you can see, like you said.

    After reading your post I was interested by ADHD and went and researched it to see how it was looked at and treated in different cultures. The culture that really interested me was China. After looking into it I have realized that American use medications to treat this illness more than any other culture, I believe that this is true with any illness or disease. Americans are always turning to medications in order to try to heal people. I found that many children in China have been diagnosed with ADHD, and it is becoming a more serious problem in China. China calls ADHD a disease and in many articles about ADHD based on American culture calls it a illness or a “condition.” I find that interesting that China culture thinks of ADHD as a disease. China doesn’t seem to think that treatments work. In America we use medication but in China they use Herbal treatment and therapy to try to help this illness. While in America some doctors prescribe strong drugs to people with ADHD the only drug that they talked about in the Chinese culture were honey pills. I find this interesting.


    Shan, Huang. “ADHD Affects over 15 Million Chinese Children.” China.Org.CN. August 5, 2007. Accessed July 10, 2016. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/add.htm.

    Dharmananda, Subhuti. “CHINESE HERBAL TREATMENT FOR ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER.” ITM Online. August 1996. Accessed July 10, 2016. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/add.htm.

  2. Hi Linsey,

    In researching about ADHD I was surprised to learn that there seems to be a considerable variance in treatments throughout the world. The article seemed to suggest that in the U.S., we have a greater frequency of prescribing medications for treatments versus a more psychosocial approach. It also suggested that countries that had a more central healthcare system were less apt to prescribe medications.

    In China, ADHD is considered to be underdiagnosed and undertreated. This is a result of such a large adolescent population, as well as a small number of professionals to diagnose and provide treatment. In addition, China is more accepting of herbal treatments so its believed that those are used just as much if not more than prescription drugs. There also appears to be a negative stigma related to ADHD in China.

    With the healthcare system centralized, Germany has a slightly different approach. Before the doctors are allowed to write prescriptions, potentially concerned parents must learn alternative parent-training strategies to cope with the child. This was also the case with Brazil, where psychoanalysis is the primary form of treatment and drugs are usually considered out of the question. In addition many professionals in Brazil believe that physical exercise is a more viable option.

    Stephen Hinshaw et al, International Variation in Treatment Procedures for ADHD: Social Context and Recent Trends (Psychiatric Services 2011) 459-464

  3. I researched how ADHD is perceived and treated in European countries, specifically France (although most European and a lot of non-american cultures follow this same basic procedure). According to the article, approximately 9% of school aged American children diagnosed with ADHD are taking medication for it, while France’s rate is less than 0.5%.
    This is because the US considers ADHD to be a biological disorder caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and therefore requires medication. The French, on the other hand, consider it to be caused by psycho-social and situational causes. Since the French believe it’s an environmental disorder, they use a much more holistic approach to treating ADHD.
    The US tends to depend on medications such as Ritalin and Adderall to help people diagnosed with ADHD, while the French eliminate foods were certain artificial coloring and preservatives to see if that will help the child enough so that they will not need medication.
    Most specifically, for children, the French do not use the DSM, and instead use the CFTMEA as “normal”behaviors and actions differ between children and adults.
    However, using the French method in the United States might not prove effective as the cultural norms for the structure of their lives, and the lives of their children are much different than those in the United States.

    Wedge, Ph.D., Marilyn. “Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD.” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201203/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd.

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