Home » Blogs » ADHD Man of Distraction » Apples And Oranges And ADHD

Apples And Oranges And ADHD

... depending on where you are.
… depending on where you are.

In our ongoing series of posts that, although not advertised as such, are aimed at debunking myths associated with ADHD, a decision has been made to address the discrepancy in ADHD diagnoses in North America and Europe.

Those who are in the camp that suggests that ADHD is made up, will point out that there is no ADHD in many European countries.

Well, you got me. That’s pretty much true, as far as it goes. But they don’t say why that is.

They don’t mention that is that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, is not commonly used for diagnosis there. Instead, they are more likely to use a reference work produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) called the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, or ICD.

How would that stop ADHD in Europe?

It wouldn’t.

But there is no ADHD in the ICD. Instead they have a diagnosis for something called Hyperkinetic Disorder.

You see, it’s kind of like radiation, and the list of diagnostic criteria is like a radiation detector. Hundreds of years ago, there was radiation. Magnetic material produces it, the sun produces it, lots of things do. But they had no detectors that could show its existence.

Saying there was no radiation at that time would not be true, but saying there was no detection of radiation at that time would be true.

So is there any ADHD in Europe?

Yes, of course there is. When they say there is no ADHD in Europe, they are saying there is no detection, no diagnosis of it. It would be like saying there’s no Hyperkinetic Disorder here in North America and telling Europeans that it’s just a made up thing because of that.

Is ADHD and Hyperkinetic Disorder the same?

Yes. And no. The diagnostic criteria would suggest that they are looking at the same disorder. But the requirement for diagnosis in the ICD allows a diagnosis rate of one to two percent of children. Current figures sometimes suggest a diagnosis rate of six to seven percent for ADHD among children as per the DSM. Changes in the DSM’s description of ADHD from revision to revision also allow for changes in rates of diagnosis.

So what’s the message here?

The message is pretty simple. Depending on the criteria used when diagnoses are made, varying rates will occur.

And as to the existence of ADHD?

ADHD exists in Europe. In fact, when using the criteria from the DSM, there is little to no change in diagnostic rates from one country to another. I will assume that using the ICD as a diagnostic tool would provide results here in North America similar to those that occur in Europe.

The DSM is apples, the ICD is oranges, ADHD is ADHD and Hyperkinetic Disorder is Hyperkinetic Disorder.

And if we forget about countries and start simply addressing situations and misinformation, the world will be the better for it. That sounds like a good rule of thumb for a lot of things, war, poverty, crime … but also for ADHD.

Because ….

Apparently calling a disorder by an alternate name will leave some people thinking that it doesn’t exist in some places. And apparently there are people who can be convinced that that bit of β€œmagic” means someone is lying.

Apples And Oranges And ADHD

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2015). Apples And Oranges And ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 26 Apr 2015
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.