by Linda Carroll

Amid what some claim is a growing epidemic of ADHD diagnoses, a study finds that almost one in four adults who show up in doctors’ offices seeking treatment may be exaggerating — or even faking — their symptoms.

Twenty-two percent of adults in the study who claimed they suffered from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder tried to skew test results to make their symptoms look worse, according to a new report based on the medical records of 268 patients and published in the journal The Clinical Neuropsychologist.

Some of those who exaggerated their symptoms actually had ADHD, but embellished their reports to ensure they got diagnosed, said the study’s lead author, Paul Marshall, a clinical neuropsychologist with Hennepin Faculty Associates, a medical group that provides services at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.Others didn’t have the disorder at all, but were having a tough time dealing with their workloads and lives.

“A lot of people think they have it because they are struggling, but it’s not because of ADHD,” Marshall said. “Often times, it’s simply depression, anxiety or lack of sleep.”

Other patients may have been faking symptoms to get access to stimulant medications, Marshall said. In some cases, college and graduate school students want to be diagnosed with ADHD in hopes of gaining access to medications that boost concentration and focus, as well as accommodations such as longer times for tests, he added.

And some just want the meds for an inexpensive high, Marshall said.

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