06 February 2012

Psychiatric Diagnosis of Children on the Rise

I read an interesting article on KidsHealth.org this morning that got me thinking.  How medicated are America's children?  A study found the rate of anti psychotic medications given to children in the 2-5 year old age range doubled between 1999 and 2007.  The National Academy of Sciences has put the number into perspective for us, stating that about 1 in 5 children in the United States has an emotional or behavioral condition.  What surprised me was the fact that rarely ever do these children go through some sort of psychiatric evaluation by a professional before a doctor just doles out the meds. The study showed less than half actually received an additional professional psychiatric evaluation.

I guess I really shouldn't be that surprised.  My oldest daughter exhibited signs of ADHD early on, and at five years old I took her to our pediatrician to get help because I was worried about the effects it was potentially having on her school work.  After a simple questionaire the doctor was ready to prescribe my daughter drugs.  We did try them for a couple weeks and then I decided against it. I didn't like how the drugs were transforming my once vibrant child. That was over 5 years ago, and while she still has some ADHD quirks and tendancies about her, she is a fully capable functioning child who thrives without the medication.  From everything I have been learning in my Psychology courses, I have to wonder if we are not letting children's natural brain and behavioral development mature before we question if there is a problem.

Don't get me wrong.  I know there are children that do need medication and I don't condone or look down upon those that do medicate.  I'm just wondering how quick our system is to medicate a child.  It seems to me that in the best interest of the children, we should be having a professional psychiatric opinion in addition to a doctor's to properly diagnose a child.  Especially for the age bracket listed above.  I can't see how a 20 minute doctor visit could possibly be able to determine if a 2 year old has a behavioral or psychotic related disorder.  What are your thoughts on this issue?

1 comment:

  1. its kinda scary to think how true that is. thats what has become of this country-you go in to the dr for something and they just throw a Rx at you and dont really look further to see if there is an alternate way to deal with the problem. i'm with you on this...its just too hard to determine if a child needs these hard meds with just a short visit.