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Over-Medicating Our Next Generation

In American society today, it is not considered rare for a child to be on multiple behavior altering medications. Though parents see this route as a way of helping their child overcome a social or behavioral disorder, they are ignorant of the fact that they are actually harming their children. Children in America with behavioral disorders such as ADHD, ADD, depression, anxiety, and bipolar are being too heavily medicated and often misdiagnosed. There have been known deaths caused from overdoses, as well as social ticks that children have developed from a variety of these medications that are advertised by psychiatrists and drug companies to help stabilize mood and prevent anxiety.


In a report done by the CDC, 2.5 million children in America that have been diagnosed with a neurobehavioral disorder are being medicated by multiple harmful drugs such as Clonidine, a blood pressure medication used for the treatment of ADD, and Depakote, a mood stabilizing drug. These same drugs are what killed a 4 year-old girl named Rebecca Riley that was being overmedicated to the point of overdosing. She had been diagnosed with this disorder at the age of 2 ½, and had been on the same drugs as her older brother and sister. The chances of all three of the children to have the same behavioral disorder has been called unlikely. These “disorders” that were misdiagnosed were conceived from poor parenting and a lack of discipline in the home.


The consolidating of medication on these misdiagnosed adolescents are also causing abnormal social ticks. In a recent PBS documentary entitled, “Frontline: The Medicated Child,” you follow several children whom have developed social ticks, such as twitching or rolling their neck to the side every so often. Doctors in the documentary confirm that this is caused by the child taking more than one medicine at once for their disorder. Medicine for ADHD or ADD is known to cause anxiety, so a psychiatrist will prescribe a second medicine for the child to combat this The anxiety medicine will also contain some side effects, such as depression, so a psychiatrist will prescribe a third medicine to stabilize their mood. The combination of these medicines are like a snow ball effect, and can result in an overdose or uncomfortable social ticks.


The idea that medicine alone can solve all of the issues that are related to these disorder is now being challenged by many prevalent psychiatrists such as Peter Jensen, MD, of Columbia University. He conducted a study with the NIMH to prove that more successfully treated “domains of functional impairment” such as rebellion, aggression, and inept social skills could be treated with behavioral discipline, as well as medicine for a better result. In the end of his study, he reported that 68% of the children that had been using medication as well as disciplinary actions met the criteria for “ADHD normalization” (a reduction or complete discontinuation of the behaviors, such as extreme aggression and lack of concentration). But when asked if he chose medication when his own child was diagnosed with ADHD, Jensen concluded that he had opted out of giving his child medicine.


Another problem with the alarming amount of children being medicated does not stem from the parents in particular, but from the American contemporary society itself. “Biological psychiatry is still the mainstream treatment of choice for our troubled kids; robust marketing by drug companies entices doctors and parents into thinking there are ‘quick fix’ capsule solutions for every childhood woe…” stated Marilyn Wedge, a family therapist. It does not help that modern Americans are not acquainted with the character quality of patience that past generations intertwined into their daily lives. Information and results are accessed at quick rates with high-speed internet and smart-phones, so the idea of waiting for the results of disciplinary action to come into full affect appear to be daunting for the parents and doctors trying to normalize these children.


And while these “quick fixes” appear to work, current findings in neuroscience revealed that a child’s brain is a product of their nurturing environment. Stress in a home situation causes trauma in a young child’s brain that may cause them to naturally act out and develop emotional or behavioral problems. This stress can turn into a neurotoxin in the child’s brain, defined in Webster’s Dictionary of Biochemistry as “a substance that is poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue.” If the child’s environment can be improved and the trauma can be treated, then medication in the fight against socially caused neurotoxins would be an unnecessary “quick fix.”


Autistic children also feel the burden of being overly medicated because of the disconcerting symptoms of repetition of certain things they hear, or acting out in school and failing classes. In a recent article written by parent of a child suffering with autism, Joe Parente wrote, “I look at the trendy way we medicate our kids and can’t help but wonder if all these drugs are really necessary. If Einstein had been born 120 years later, would his mother put him on Ritalin because he keeps day dreaming in science class? Would Leonardo da Vinci’s father put him on Concerta because he won’t stop that confounded doodling?” The idea that it is trendy and culturally relevant to improve children’s health with medication is becoming a stated fact. Children on these medications have called the feeling “less than human” and often beg their parents to take them off of the drugs. Some parents in studies have even admitted to having their child on the drugs to relieve some stress off of themselves and dealing with the constant pressures of having their children fail in school and throwing temper tantrums.


The newest debate that psychiatrists have enveloped themselves into has been the debate over if bipolar disorder really exists in children. Bipolar is a disorder in which the victims go into periods of hyper active mania and also periods of depression. The medicine used to treat these are anti-psychotics such as Risperdal, which has been known to cause full-grown adults to lose their ability to concentrate and drool profusely. Imagine what that would do to a small child.


Anxiety medication also has its variety of drawbacks. Popular anxiety medications, also known as tranquilizers, are Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan. These are used to treat panic attacks and to help slow down the nervous system to keep the victim calm after the overwhelming anxiety episode. However, these “magic pills” make some feel sleepy, foggy, and uncoordinated because of the low doses of benzodiazepines, which can cause problems with work, school, or everyday activities, such as driving. Some even feel a medication hangover the next day. The people that are over sedated may even pass out or behave like they are drunk.


Modern medicine is a wonderful invention in American society, but when it is abused by misguided parents- it can be life threatening and damaging to the next generation of the country. The children are being overmedicated and misdiagnosed by the people that are supposed to be helping them cope with their problems and normalize their lives. Through the scientific research of scholars and psychiatrists, a method of combination treatment pans out to be the most effective and suggested form of treatment for any child suffering from a neurobehavioral disorder.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

stephanieh said...
Jun. 22, 2011 at 9:29 pm
Interesting article. I'm going to a juvy center in Taiwan where they also deal with a large amount of ADD/ADHD children. It's interesting to see their approach to handling their situation- instead of medicating the children, they teach the kids how to ride unicycles (and eventually have synchronized unicycling). It sounds really bizarre, but it works well because it causes the children to concentrate and work together.
 
windowkindoflife said...
Jun. 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Really enjoyed this. It was a lot to read, but I love psychology articles like this.

I don't think people understand how dangerous those medications can be. My little sister was an entirely different person after they put her on Ritalin.

Thanks for presenting the facts with out the know-it-all first person POV, so others can understand better.

 
Betteybetter said...
Jun. 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm
This was excellent. I love reading stuff like this. Also, I couldn't agree more on people who give their children medicine to compensate for their lack of parenting skills. Good luck with your future career!
 
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