Tardive Dyskinesia is defined as the involuntary loss of muscle control, most common around the mouth and/or neck. Also, TD is commonly referred to as a tick ranging from mild to severe cases. It is just one of many negative effects obtained when taking psychotropic or psychiatric medications for long term. Not until recently, these side effects occurred mostly in the elderly because they began taking these medications as fully matured adults. Now these potentially life threatening, life altering, drugs are being given to our children without the proper studies done to avoid or acknowledge the adverse effects on a growing body and mind.
Not only are these drugs dangerous, but very often are replaceable with much safer and more efficient alternative therapies or cognitive behavior skills that can be taught to benefit a child in short as well as long term results. In my opinion, the most disturbing fact about overmedicating children is not just the appalling long list of unfavorable physical consequences on a growing body, but the psychological dependence and detrition that a child can develop while being administrated these drugs as well. Addictive behavior, drug dependence, and suicidal tendencies are only some of the possible psychological disadvantages.
In general, psychotropic and psychiatric medications do not have the proper testing with children to support them, are very easily avoidable with alternate therapies, and have a stunningly large list of negative physical and psychological effects. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is one of the most advanced pharmaceutical systems in the world. For a new drug to pass the FDA must first approve multiple variables surrounding the new medication. For instance, the drug company must provide proper evidence to support that their products, both generic and name brand, work properly and have more positive outcomes than the potential bad ones.
Than the FDA will than proceed to have a team of physicians, statisticians, chemists, pharmacologists, and other types of scientists review the outcome and data of the new drug. For the drug company to present said data to the FDA they must first test these drugs in a lab on animals to monitor the effects and then if all goes well, will perform a clinical trial on humans, more specifically adults. Once the drug has been FDA approved, and labeled properly it is released to the public. Unfortunately it has been overlooked for some time that these drugs would have unprecedented and irrevocable effects on a growing body.
As Dr. Alan Stone (1), Professor of Law and Psychiatry at Harvard University, states, “David Fassler, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist and clinical professor at the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine, was no doubt correct in his assertion that media coverage of drug studies may make some parents and physicians reluctant to treat a child’s disorder with drugs that could very well be effective. However, public concern about prescribing psychiatric drugs for children is not just a matter of biased or incomplete media reporting; there are real scientific questions that have not been satisfactorily resolved.
Most important, there is not enough data about the long-term side effects of increasingly prescribed atypical antipsychotics on the developing brains and bodies of children. Second, many psychotropic drugs and the accompanying dosages prescribed for children were found effective on the basis of expert consensus rather than by the gold standard of double-blind studies done with children. Third, diagnoses in children change over time, and even when clinicians carefully apply DSM-IV criteria to each case, their diagnosis of a disorder in a child is likely to be less accurate than their diagnosis in an adult. This brings about the question: If the action of diagnosing and medicating an adult has a certain standard that we must adhere to shouldn’t a child as well? For example, I have been prescribed a cocktail of medications since the age of seven for various reasons. It has been noted by more than one doctor that I have a very irregular metabolism and a slight case of insulin resistance, both side effects to have being medicated long term. As stated, the diagnosis of a child is not as accurate as adults and can change with age progression.
Therefore, it is evident that there is simply not enough data to support the effects these drugs designed for adults will have on a growing mind and body. Despite contrary beliefs there are multiple different solutions to mental disorders, such as, ADHD or OCD that are just as effective as drug therapy. Wouldn’t it be more logical to devise a safe and more beneficial regimen with a child that they can practice on a daily basis than to jump to medications that can potentially harm them for the rest of their lives?
It is an adult’s responsibility as a parent to provide proper care to their child and numbing them with heavy narcotics is not the way. How can the mind fathom giving a two-year old psychotropic drugs meant for adults or a teenager Xanax when there are so many more healthy ways to help them? Marilyn Wedge (2), PHD obtained from University of Chicago, a prestigious therapist, and author of multiple books, states, “My secret weapon is family therapy, specifically child-focused family therapy, the variation that I have developed in my two decades of working with children and families.
My approach includes meeting not only with a child’s parents, siblings, and at times their extended family, but also with teachers, school psychologists, and counselors. I have developed creative strategies to help children cope with stress of sadness, school problems or aggressiveness, anxiety or compulsive behaviors. I have taught mothers and fathers new techniques of parenting and new ways of communicating that have helped countless families I’ve worked with over the years. ” A popular belief is that the type of therapies that Dr.
Wedge offers are often too expensive and time consuming, but in all rationality it is much cheaper to pay a therapist by session than to fill a prescription or even multiple prescriptions every couple of weeks depending on the recipient. As well is it healthier for a child to be worked with in such a manner than to be swallowing pill after pill. For example, despite being prescribed Adderall since the age of seven I have refused my “ADHD” enough to go off my meds and realize that I am quite capable of focusing on my own, but it takes me triple the amount of time to complete a task.
That leaves me questioning that if my parents had decided for me to participate in alternate therapies, would I had been able to focus regularly as of now? Am I a victim of a false diagnosis and truly was just being a happy hyper little girl? Put these chilling questions and stunning realizations aside it is still evident that alternate therapies can be extremely effective in the short term as well as the long run. The adverse effects brought on upon by psychotropic and psychiatric drugs are very often weighed only by the physical downsides.
Alas, parents and psychiatrist need to take into account that the psychological consequences are just as dire if not more. The suicide rate in American teenagers has skyrocketed to heart shattering rates in the past ten years as has the rate of the medicated. One cannot simply deem this coincidence. It is incontrovertible that the two variables of suicide and medication are related in such a manner that more than one red flag should be raised. The FDA brought upon the “Black Box” on certain medications that let the user know that it can increase suicidal thoughts, but ironically this warning back fired immediately.
Accordingly, the Black Box scared parents and children who are already reliant on antidepressants to go off their medication which without proper attention with other therapies or treatments can cause an even higher risk of suicidal thoughts. As explained by, Tony Dokoupil (3) of Columbia University, “According to a new study in The Journal of American Psychiatry, the number of SSRI prescriptions for pediatric depression (ages 5 to 18) tumbled more than 50 percent between 2003 and 2005.
In a troubling parallel development, the number of teen suicides jumped a record 18 percent between 2003 and 2004, the most recent year for which data exist. Are the two trends connected? Many experts say yes. “All the data point in one direction: antidepressants save lives and untreated depression kills people,” says Dr. Kelly Posner, a Columbia University child psychiatrist. She and others cite an un-witting instigator: the Food and Drug Administration–which may have scared parents and doctors away from SSRIs in 2003 when it issued a health-advisory warning of a potential link between the popular drugs and teen suicide. Antidepressants bring about suicidal behavior in teens and children, that’s a fact. Although, parents and the child who suffers from said confliction need to understand that going off your medication without any other form of therapy being exercised is equally as dangerous relying on that drug itself. Which only further the positives for alternate therapies.
Every child is different; extroverts, introverts, hyper, shy, thick, or clever. Parents should revert to parenting and work with their children. As well as the psychiatrists who are guilty of over diagnosing and over edicating, instead of pressing to make money and hand out the latest designer drug they should practice and aspire to help those who need it. Prescription drugs should be viewed as an aid to help those too disturbed or handicapped to lead a high quality of living not as a quick fix to push a child or teenager onto the “normal” track. It is more than clear that this dilemma will only lead to more accidental deaths or higher suicide rates in America. Not only should parents become more aware of this growing trend, but school teachers and social workers.
It is too common that a child grows up believing that they are chemically unbalanced or ill because they were too excited to be in school and couldn’t contain themselves. Social Learning Theory is a popular school of thought that states one learns how to act and think from the repercussions of their environments. In my opinion, SLT couldn’t be more right. Therefore, instead of jumping the gun and handing our children their own chemical death, take the time to sit with them and maybe listen. The parents of today’s society might be quite surprised by what they happen to hear.
1. Stone, Alan A. “Psychiatric Drugs for Kids.” Psychiatric Times 1 Feb. 2007: 47. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 2 Apr. 2012. 2. Wedge, Marylin. Suffer the Children. New York: Norton and Company Inc., 2011. 3. Dokoupil, Tony. “Trouble in a ‘Black Box’; Did an effort to reduce teen suicides backfire?” Newsweek 16 July 2007: 48. General OneFile. Web. 16 Apr. 2012.