advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
What is Sluggish Cognitive Tempo?

My son was diagnosed with ADHD years ago and is taking medication. I've recently heard about another disorder called sluggish cognitive tempo. Can you explain what this is and whether it relates to ADHD?

A
Answer (Published 7/29/2014)

Sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) is a condition claimed to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing, and is said to affect as many as two million children. While it hasn't been recognized as a medical diagnosis, some pharmaceutical companies are reportedly investigating drugs to address symptoms and conducting studies to see if medications currently being prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are effective for SCT. Some experts have suggested that this disorder may soon become the "new attention disorder."

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Energy - If you are a parent or grandparent, you know that abundant energy is vital when it comes to keeping up with the kids. Certain supplements can help keep you energized, naturally - learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

From what I've learned, there is no consensus on whether or not the disorder actually exists, nor on its exact symptoms. It is not listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the most authoritative compendium of mental disorders. Even so, I've read that some researchers have suggested that SCT could encompass some two million children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, even though they are not hyperactive, as well as another one million children who haven't been diagnosed with ADHD.

Many in the psychiatric field don't agree with this. Alan Francis, M.D., emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine wrote a scathing blog entry about the subject on the Psychology Today website characterizing SCT as the "dumbest and most dangerous diagnostic idea I have ever encountered," and maintaining that "the very same experts who succeeded in promoting ADHD have now concocted and are promoting a new diagnosis that would be a terrific bonanza for pharmaceuticals, but terrible for the kids who would be misdiagnosed and over-treated."

Perhaps the biggest boost SCT has received came from the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, which filled 136 pages of its January 2014 issue with papers describing the disorder. The lead paper claimed that the question of its SCT's existence "seems to be laid to rest as of this issue."

Despite the fact that SCT hasn't been accepted as a legitimate disorder, some doctors are trying to figure out how to treat it. I've read that the stimulants used to treat ADHD don't help with kids thought to have SCT.

We'll have to see if daydreaming and lethargy mean that something is really wrong with a lot of children, justifying drug treatment. I'm skeptical. More alarming is the paragraph below from Dr. Francis' blog:

"A prospective study using DSM-IV found that by age 21, 81 percent of kids had already qualified for one diagnosis of mental disorder. DSM-5 recently made things much worse when it turned normal temper tantrums into Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. The last thing our kids need is to be misdiagnosed with Sluggish Cognitive Tempo and bathed in even more stimulant meds."

I agree.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Sources:
Alan Schwarz, "Idea of New Attention Disorder Spurs Research, and Debate", New York Times, April 11, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/health/idea-of-new-attention-disorder-spurs-research-and-debate.html accessed June 12, 2014.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here