It seems that everywhere you go these days, you hear conversations about children being diagnosed with ADHD. Fifteen years back kids were just “loud” or “busy”, now we know that at least some of these kids had ADHD. In the Netherlands, the same as in many other countries, children with severe cases of ADHD are prescribed various kids of medication (depending on their needs). The French however, have a different approach. and it seems to be working.
Only .5 percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD in France
In 2012, the percentage of school-age children in America diagnosed with ADHD was 9 percent, at the same time in France, the percentage was less than 1 percent! Many of these children in the States also received pharmaceutical medications to deal with their condition. So why are French children different from American children? According to psychiatrist Marilyn Wedge, doctors in France look at the child’s social context instead of their brain structure to see what is causing the child’s problems.
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Therapy instead of medication
After the doctors have established the underlying social context problem, they begin treating it with psychotherapy or family counselling. French child psychiatrists use an alternative classification system than the one being used in America. American psychiatrists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), French psychiatrists use the CFTMEA (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent), which focusses on identifying and treating the psychosocial causes of the child’s systems, instead of masking the systems with medication.
credit: Warner Bros.
French psychiatrists look at the children’s diet
It has been well known that various different kinds of foods influence all of us, let alone the minds and bodies of children suffering from ADHD. Another part of the French approach is that they look at the nutritional habits of the children. The condition of children who have ADHD can be substantially worsened by eating foods that are high in artificial colouring and preservatives. Therefore, French psychiatrists look at the children’s diets, and see how to optimise the childrens’s mental and physical health by cutting out certain foods.
Check out Dr. Marilyn Wedge’s blog for more of her thoughts on child psychology.