• Brandon Joffe, LCSW

Diagnosis and Medication


Be careful with diagnosis and medication. If you push hard enough you can find a psychiatrist to give you the meds you think your child should have and a therapist to give your child a diagnosis you recently googled and found to fit the symptoms. For example there are more children than ever with the diagnosis of ADHD/ADD and Anxiety. The fact is that too often in my practice I find that adolescents are not getting the true care they need because they have been given the wrong diagnosis and in many cases a diagnosis at all.

Let’s start with ADHD/ADD. Too often the moment a child gets failing-grades in school, acts out, and doesn’t pay attention they are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. One of the pieces often missed is that the symptoms are only being seen at school, during homework, or when the adolescent is doing difficult tasks that they do not want to do. For this diagnosis to be true there is more of a consistency and pervasiveness in all areas of the child’s life not just in the areas they really don’t like. A sign that the diagnosis might be wrong is that the medication had little to no effect. Often I will talk to families who have children taking medication and when I ask if it works their answer is “I think so”. That is not working in the world of diagnosis and medication. There is a chance that the diagnosis is simply “you are raising a difficult child.”

Now let’s take a look at anxiety. Anxiety disorders are very difficult and there is a rise, but that does not mean that all anxiety is a disorder. And whether your child has the diagnosis or not, under no circumstance does it meant that they should not have any expectations and standards. Too often a child who does not want to go to school and complains of stress or anxiety, is given a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. In many cases it is a sound diagnosis, but too often I find scenarios like a child has not done their homework, argues with the teacher, and doesn’t get along with others at school. They then find that on test days, days when homework is due, or days when a speech is to be given there is significant anxiety. This does not qualify because there are clear triggers and unfortunately no medication is going to fix the fact that the adolescent has made some very bad choices that are going to take very hard and consistent work to fix.

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