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Preschoolers on Psychiatric Medications - Is Your Child One?

By HERWriter Guide
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Photo: Getty Images

The New York Times made a video recently, documenting the tens of thousands of children placed on anti-psychotic medications every year by their pediatricians. Frustrated parents, faced with out of control babies, are placing them on the heaviest of medications as early as 18 months.

One child profiled was Kyle Warren.

Kyle was placed on many of these medications at a year-and-a-half. He was having temper tantrums by the time he was 6 months old and had self-harmed enough to require hospitalization. His doctor recommended medication and his desperate mother agreed. The amount of medication was overwhelming – Prozac, multiple pills to help with sleep, more pills for ADHD and Rispirdal – usually given to adult schizophrenics. By the time he was three, he weighed nearly 50 pounds and had been turned into drooling, blank stared preschooler with a documented medical diagnosis of bipolar disorder, Autism, ADHD, hyperactivity, insomnia and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

His mother ultimately moved him to new doctors, fearful of the drugs her three year old was on. They agreed with her and took steps to wean him safely down from the plethora of drugs that most adults would see strong side effects of. While they agreed that Kyle suffered from ADHD, they believed that a bipolar disorder diagnosis was wrong (seriously, this kind of diagnosis for a 3 year old?) as were all the others. His “autism” was a speech delay that prevented him from communicating and lead to temper tantrums due to his own frustration at not being understood.

Many of these children like Kyle were not properly diagnosed or studied and four in ten children diagnosed are done so, against the standards set by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, according to a Columbia University Study.

So why are doctors so quick to dole out the pills? Most say it’s a misguided intent to help the child and to calm their equally anxious parents. And the more doctors that do it, the more these diagnoses and medications are normalized in the minds of parents.

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EmpowHER Guest

I think this story is a reflection of our culture of quick fixes. We medicate to numb symptoms without addressing the root of the problem. Behavioral interventions will likely have lasting effects, however, they often take longer to implement and progress is more gradual. Guess we don't have time for that.

October 4, 2010 - 9:56am
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