The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article on “are we too quick to medicate children”? I urge you to read it.
“A study published in September found that the diagnosis among children of bipolar disorder, a mental illness long thought not to exist in kids, grew 40-fold over the last decade. The prescribing to kids of antipsychotic drugs typically used to treat the symptoms of bipolar illness have soared as well, despite continuing concerns over side effects such as weight gain, metabolic changes that can lead to diabetes, and tremors.” Antipsychotic drugs, until recently, were only used to treat chronic schizophrenics.
This is what troubles me the most about the present trend:
“It has changed the way Americans think about children. Critics warn that as psychiatric diagnosis and medication of children becomes more widespread, teachers, well-meaning neighbors and relatives, and parents themselves are becoming less willing to accept youthful misfits for who they are and to help them adapt without prescribing drugs or attaching labels.
“We are suffering . . . from a shrinking tolerance for the broad limits of normality,” says. Dr. Stanley Turecki, author of “The Difficult Child” and a practicing psychiatrist in New York and Massachusetts.” There once was a time when a pocketful of well-worn adjectives, accompanied by a shrug, would have been sufficient to describe American kids at the outer reaches of normal: shy, spirited, combative, dreamy, sensitive, fretful — even odd. All were qualities a child might readily grow out of with guidance or a few years to mature.
The descriptors for such youthful outliers have undergone a linguistic overhaul in recent years, says Ross W. Greene of Harvard Medical School’s department of psychiatry. Increasingly, talk of temperamental extremes or social skills that need to be taught or strengthened has given way to the assignment of disorders, deficits and dysfunctions. Nowadays, a kid whose behavior is problematic has to have something — a diagnosis — which energizes school administrators, absolves parents of guilt and too often, Greene says, dictates medicating the child with powerful drugs.”