Honey, They've Medicated the Kids

“Soon almost all kids will be on medications for something,” said Dr. Fuhrman when I asked him to comment on a report suggesting bipolar disorder may be over-diagnosed in youths. Kind of foreboding, when you read this article by Melissa Healy of The Los Angeles Times, “Are we too quick to medicate children?” Here’s a bit:
In 2005, the latest year for which statistics are available, at least 2.2 million American children over the age of 4 were being treated for serious difficulties with emotion, concentration, behavior or ability to get along with others. It's a figure mental-health professionals say has exploded in the last decade and a half, along with sales of a wide range of psychiatric medications for use by children.

A welter of studies has shown that kids are being diagnosed at younger ages, with a wider range of disorders and with more severe disorders than ever before. And in growing numbers, they are being medicated with drugs whose safety, effectiveness and long-range effects on children have not been demonstrated by extensive research.

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.

Psychiatrists admit they haven't drawn clear lines between problem behaviors and mental illness, especially in kids, and they are debating future fixes. But until those fixes are made, parents -- with their kids' futures on the line -- are left with little to guide them when a child is tagged with a psychiatric label.
Who am I to say when kids—or any person for that matter—should be given the assistance of psychotropic medications, but at the very least, before we start prescribing kids pills willy-nilly, shouldn’t safer options be tried first. Consider this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child concerning children and ADHD. Take a look:
What has been shown to be highly effective in some recent studies is high-nutrient eating, removal of processed foods, and supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids.1 The difference between my approach and others is that it changes a poor diet into an excellent one, supplying an adequate amount of thousands of important nutrients that work synergistically as well as removing those noxious substances such as chemical additives, trans fat, saturated fats, and empty-calorie food that place a nutritional stress on our brain cells. I believe this comprehensive approach is more effective; the scientific literature suggests this, and I have observed this in my practice with hundreds of ADHD children who have see me as patients.
Eh, I guess its just easier to prescribe some pills and get back to shopping at the mall.

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