In the old days, which I well remember, misbehavior in school was considered a disciplinary problem. This included not paying attention, fidgeting, not applying oneself to one’s work, talking, interrupting the teacher, etc., etc., etc…
Then the APA decided that these various activities were really symptoms of a mental illness, and thereby created the ever-burgeoning market for Ritalin and other drugs which, we are falsely told, correct the “chemical imbalance” in these children’s brains.
But the psychiatry-pharma juggernaut is always hungry for more, and it wasn’t long before we were hearing of “adult ADHD,” resulting in even more people on drugs.
And now, they’ve set their sights on seniors. Not all seniors, mind you – just those with Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).
Dr. Jacobo Mintzer conducted a small study last year on the effects of methylphenidate (Ritalin) on apathy levels in people with AD. I have not been able to find the formal write-up, but there’s an ABC News Article here, and Neurology Today article here. You can also find a description of the study design on DrugLib.com here, and The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry here.
The results of the study were disappointing. The Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES) rates an individual’s apathy level on a scale of 18 to 72 (i.e. a range of 54). In the trial, the AES scores of those who received Ritalin increased by an average of 1.9 points. From a clinical perspective, this represents a very modest effect, and is not statistically significant. Nevertheless, Dr. Mintzer is reported as stating: “I think it is quite likely that we’re going to see increased use of methylphenidate…” Tragically, he’s probably right!
And by the way, Dr. Mintzer received research grants to the tune of $338,619 from Pfizer and Eli Lilly in 2010-2012 (ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs)
Thanks to TallaTrialogue on Twitter for giving me the link to the ABC News article.