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article imageMove over ADHD – is Sluggish Cognitive Tempo the next big thing?

By Martin Laine     Apr 12, 2014 in Health
That slow-moving, daydreaming kid who keeps forgetting to put his name on his papers might not just be overtired from staying up too late playing video games. He might be suffering from something researchers are calling Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT).
Proponents of the as-yet unrecognized condition say it is a legitimate diagnosis, distinct from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder with which it shares some symptoms, and deserves its own course of treatment.
Skeptics, however, argue that too many children have already been misdiagnosed as having ADHD when the problem may be nothing more than ordinary childhood behaviors and that the new SCT may be more of the same.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly is looking into which of its ADHD drugs could be used to treat SCT.
According to an article in the New York Times, more than 6 million American children are currently diagnosed with ADHD, with about 4 million of them taking medication daily to control the symptoms. With those kinds of numbers, along with the broad all-encompassing set of symptoms, concern has been rising that significant numbers of these may have been misdiagnosed.
Psychologist Russell Barkley of the Medical University South Carolina and a leading proponent of ADHD is now calling SCT “the new attention disorder.”
“When you start talking about things like daydreaming, mind-wandering, those types of behaviors, someone who has a son or daughter who does this excessively, say ‘I know about this from my own experience.’ They know what you’re talking about,” said Prof. Keith McBurnett, of the University of California, an author of several papers on SCT.
However, McBurnett and others also warn that more rigorous scientific research is needed before the diagnosis gains recognition, not to mention any sort of medication prescribed. They note that there is not yet a consensus on a list of symptoms for SCT.
“We’re seeing a fad in evolution,” said Allen Francis, emeritus professor psychiatry at Duke University. “Just as ADHD has been the diagnosis du jour for the past 15 years or so, this is the beginning of another. This is a public health experiment on millions of kids.”
Nevertheless, Eli Lilly has funded research by Prof. Barkley and retained him to make speaking engagements advocating for the recognition of SCT and touting the effectiveness of one of its drugs, Strattera, in managing the symptoms
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