Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) holds the distinction of being both the most extensively studied pediatric mental disorder and one of the most controversial. This is partly due to the fact that it is also the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among minors. On average, one in every ten to 15 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with the disorder and one in every 20 to 25 uses a stimulant medication—often Ritalin, Adderall, or Concerta—as treatment. The biggest increase in youth diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed a stimulant drug occurred during the 1990s, when the prevalence of physician visits for stimulant pharmacotherapy increased five-fold. This unprecedented increase in U.S. children using psychotropic medication triggered an intense public debate.

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Copyright © 2008, Guilford Press. This article first appeared in Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology News: 13:5 (2008), 1-5, 9.

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