The Psychiatric Drugging of Children: Inventing Disorders

By enquirewithin · Apr 22, 2010 · ·
  1. enquirewithin
    Of all the harmful actions of modern psychiatry, "the mass diagnosing and drugging of children is the most appalling with the most serious consequences for the future of individual lives and for society," warns the world-renowned expert, Dr Peter Breggin, often referred to as the "Conscience of Psychiatry."

    "We're bringing up a generation in this country in which you either sit down, shut up and do what you're told, or you get diagnosed and drugged," he points out.

    Breggin considers the situation to be "a national tragedy." "To inflict these drugs on the growing brains of infants and children is wrong and abusive," he contends.

    The kids who get drugged are often our best, brightest, most exciting and energetic children, he points out. "In the long run, we are giving children a very bad lesson that drugs are the answer to emotional problems."

    Dr Nathaniel Lehrman, author of the book, "Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs," believes that giving infants and toddlers "powerful, brain-effecting psychiatric medication is close to criminal activity."

    "Giving them these drugs," he says, "has no rationale, and ignores the basic fact that youngsters are very sensitive to their environments, both social and chemical, with the juvenile brain easily damaged by the latter."

    During an interview on ABC Radio National in August 2007, Dr David Healy, the noted British pharmacology expert, and author of the book, "Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder," told reporter Jane Shields: "Just to give you a feel for how crazy things have actually got recently, it would appear that clinicians in the US are happy to look at the ultrasounds of children in the womb, and based on the fact that they appear to be more overactive at times, and then possibly less active later, they're prepared to actually consider the possibility that these children could be bipolar."

    On April 9, 2009, Christopher Lane, author of the book, "Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness," published an interview on his Psychology Today blog with Dr Healy. In the interview, Healy explained the history behind the drastic rise in the sale of anticonvulsants and antipsychotics as "mood stabilizers," and the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

    "The key event in the mid-1990s that led to the change in perspective was the marketing of Depakote by Abbott as a mood stabilizer," Healy tells Lane, and further explains:

    "Mood stabilization didn’t exist before the mid-1990s. It can’t be found in any of the earlier reference books and journals. Since then, however, we now have sections for mood stabilizers in all the books on psychotropic drugs, and over a hundred articles per year featuring mood stabilization in their titles.

    "In the same way, Abbott and other companies such as Lilly marketing Zyprexa for bipolar disorder have re-engineered manic-depressive illness. While the term bipolar disorder was there since 1980, manic-depression was the term that was still more commonly used until the mid-1990s when it vanishes and is replaced by bipolar disorder. Nowadays, over 500 articles per year feature bipolar disorder in their titles."

    "As of 2008, upwards of a million children in the United States—in many cases preschoolers—are on "mood-stabilizers" for bipolar disorder, even though the condition remains unrecognized in the rest of the world," Healy points out.

    "But there is no evidence that the drugs stabilize moods," he says. "In fact, it is not even clear that it makes sense to talk about a mood center in the brain."

    "A further piece of mythology aimed at keeping people on the drugs," he reports, "is that these are supposedly neuroprotective—but there's no evidence that this is the case and in fact these drugs can lead to brain damage."

    Healy says the FDA's decision to add a black-box warning about suicide to SSRIs likely had little to do with the switch to prescribing antipsychotics as safer for children. What "was quite striking was how quickly companies were able to use the views of the few bipolar-ologists who argued that when children become suicidal on antidepressants it's not the fault of the drug," he points out.

    "The problem, they said, stems from a mistaken diagnosis and if we could just get the diagnosis right and put the child on mood stabilizers then there wouldn't be a problem," he explains.

    "There is no evidence for this viewpoint, but it was interesting to see how company support could put wind in the sails of such a perspective," he says.

    Because having just one label was very limiting, Healy says, child psychiatry "needed another disorder—and for this reason bipolar disorder was welcome."

    He reports that the same thing is happening to children labeled with ADHD. "Not all children find stimulants suitable," he advises, "and just as with the SSRIs and bipolar disorder it has become very convenient to say that the stimulants weren't causing the problem the child was experiencing; the child in fact had a different disorder and if we could just get the diagnosis correct, then everything else would fall into place."

    A report titled, "Adverse Events Associated with Drug Treatment of ADHD: Review of Postmarketing Safety Data," presented at the FDA's March 22, 2006, Pediatric Advisory Committee meeting bears witness to Healy's explanation by stating in part: “The most important finding of this review is that signs and symptoms of psychosis or mania, particularly hallucinations, can occur in some patients with no identifiable risk factors, at usual doses of any of the drugs currently used to treat ADHD.”

    Between January 2000, and June 30, 2005, the FDA identified nearly 1,000 cases of psychosis or mania linked to the drugs in its own database and those from the drug makers themselves.

    The antipsychotics are just as dangerous as the SSRI antidepressants, Healy says. "Long before the antidepressants were linked with akathisia, the antipsychotics were universally recognized as causing this problem," he explains in the Lane interview. "It was also universally accepted that the akathisia they induce risked precipitating the patient into suicidality or violence."

    "They also cause a physical dependence," Healy states. "Zyprexa is among the drugs most likely to cause people to become physically dependent on it."

    "In addition," he points out, "these drugs are known to cause a range of neurological syndromes, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and other problems."

    "It's hard to understand how blind clinicians can get to problems like these, especially in youngsters who grow obese and become diabetic right before their eyes," Healy tells Lane.

    As for what he calls the "medicalization of childhood," in the radio interview, Healy points out that "children always have been unhappy, they always have been nervous, but that's actually part and parcel of being a child."

    "You have to go through these things," he said. "This is how we learn to cope with the problems of life."

    Children can best be helped in the safest way, he says, "if they're just seen and if they actually have the opportunity to talk about their problems, and if they get basic and sensible input about how to perhaps help them cope with these problems."

    Healy said it's important to remember that severe mental illness is rare in children and that most children with a mental health problem do not need medication. Children are being picked up and put on pills "who really don't need to be on these pills and who are going to be injured by them," he warned.

    "I think possibly 10 to 15 years up the road," he told Shields, "we're going to be looking at a generation of children who will have been seriously injured by the treatments that they appear ever-increasingly likely to be put on now."

    But the administration of multiple drugs at once complicates the situation so that it may be impossible to determine which drugs are most responsible for the adverse reactions children experience, according to Dr Breggin.

    "Because so many doctors and so many drug companies will share the blame for mistreating these children, they will be unable to seek redress against individual perpetrators through the courts when they grow up," he explains.

    Evelyn Pringle is an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

    (This report is one of a series of articles focused on the rising rates of psychiatric drugging in the US and is sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology)


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  1. Euthanatos93420

    No one is 'inventing disorders' just to sell pills to children. They are however far excessively overdiagnosing to a criminal degree.

    But hey, It's better they have a prescription for speed than smoke weed...right?

    It's a sad day when the system makes a mockery of itself. Who can we trust to give us accurate medical advice when these doctors have a clear and vested interest in selling us any pill they convince us and our children to take for god only knows if they really give a shit why.
  2. enquirewithin
    How can you be sure?
  3. Euthanatos93420
    Because I've studied the disorders. They are real and there are people who really have them. I know some of those people as I a member of NAMI.

    Bipolar, ADD/ADHD, Asperger's, are all very real chemical imbalances in the brain.

    The truth is the eveyone, at some time or another, experiences symptoms of these disorders. Symptoms do not mean an individual has a disorder, however. Many people are diagnosed with shit just because they go in and say they saw a pill on TV.

    Doctors are, as the article said, little more than glorified drug dealers these days. Yet even so, just as it is difficult to find an intelligent, responsible and fair weed dealer, once can occaisionally stumble across an intelligent disorder who is just nutcupping the pharmies and will give oyu active attention and treatment.

    Unfortunately even though I have manic depression it's very difficult for me to find treatment I trust because I'm not rich off my ass enough to afford enough personal attention from a doctor for me to feel comfortable enough with their understanding of my file. Moreover, I don't really give a shit because the only pill I haven't tried that would be applicable to my case is Geodon and I have no interest in it anyway. For what it's worth there is a medicine that treats my disorder perfectly. Unfortunately it's illegal so unless I move away from friends, family, and everything I know and have in life (To california where I could get treatment), then I'm stuck in a very shitty situation with very few options.
  4. tripolar
    I am not trying to be difficult here, but how exactly do you define a REAL disorder, i.e. what are your criteria?
  5. Euthanatos93420
    Mostly that the symptoms are persistent and blatant. ADD/ADHD is not a kid who can't sit still in class. Talking about someone who can NEVER sit still....EVER. THAT is add/adhd. You can't fake symptoms that just don't go away.

    Just like mood swings are not bipolar.
  6. enquirewithin
    I'm no expert, but definitions of 'disorders' do change. I think we can all agree that doctors overprescribe (perhaps US ones especially) and they have incentives to do so.

    I have worked with kids with asperger's syndrome and that is something I can recognize. ADD/ ADHD is much harder to pin down.
  7. enquirewithin
    Not sure about the documentary but I've been posting articles on similar themes for a while.
  8. Euthanatos93420
    Only when understanding of such disorders are in their infantile stage, or now, as we are making significant advances in nueroscience, our understnading of the nuerochemistry evolves.
    Without a doubt. I just had a vasectomy and had to sign a waiver saying I understood that the doctor I was seeing had a vested interest into certain orthopedic companies. How absurd is it that patients do not need to sign such a waiver for any incentives a doctor may be receiving from pharmies? Sounds like class-action zit ready to pop.

    I don't think so at all. I have known several kids with Asperger's and some who are potentially mis/over-diagnosed. However I should think ADD/ADHD is far easier. Such children are chronically unable to stop moving physically this condition is actually quite rare but I have observed such cases first hand. It is appalling what passes for ADD/ADHD after I have witness this. It is a truly surreal phenomenon.
  9. enquirewithin
    Yes, understanding of the brain is in its infancy.

    I have seen a few kids who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, some perhaps wrongly. But ones who NEVER sit still... I'm not sure! :)
  10. solartrinity
    My son has ADHD. It has took years to get him treated and recognised as having this condition. He is constantly restless, cant concentrate on one thing, constantly flitting from one conversation to another subject, He has fits of frustration and anger which he doesnt understand afterwards. He cant comprehend things the way others do, his brain is on constant overload and he is really in his own reality which is confused, frustrated and scary. I have with my family done numerous courses on the condition, eduated ourselves about it, and we had numerous assessments and meetings with a child psychiatrist, which we see on a monthly basis after long deep thinking and discussion we decided to place him on methalphenadate.
    This changed my son in a good way, for him and us. He was able to interact with the world so much better, calmer and with the ability to process the reality of the world around him from that chaos to a little boy. I really do feel that the drug has benefited my son and I am far from being a slack parent for giving him the meds. People are very quick to judge people as using the drug as a quick fix and crap parenting but I have watched my son grow up being labelled the naughty boy, always on the naughty seat, alienated, removed from class for making noises or fidgeting. I have seen the way its been easier for him to be pushed out of education and have fought for him to be diagnosed properly, and then for the school to get training in his condition so they understand it and at last he is being taught in a classroom enviroment with work and 'fiddeys' in place. Work made in to smaller chunks for him to understand and learn.
    I am far from a lazy parent who finds her son a handful.
    I attend each meeting monthly and my son is weighed, and reviewed each time and his health closely monitored, he recieves help from school on one to one basis every morning for 3 hrs and is a happy little boy who has friends and is learning, although behind mentally 3 years.

    Without his meds my son would have been expelled from school and had to attend a 'special' school, the nearest one being so far that I would only see him at weekends and that wouldnt be the answer. He was on the last warning and second school and now at last he is settled and loves school!
  11. Euthanatos93420
    Thank you for sharing that. It's very difficult to see that these disorders are in fact very real conditions that people deal with when it very true that doctors who clearly overperscribe and overdiagnose.
  12. dyingtomorrow
    I think it is a very nuanced issue.

    Personally, I believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with using drugs to change one's mood and perceptions from time to time. If we are talking about what is healthy for people in the aggregate, I would say the balance should be whether the drugs help them in their working and daily lives, rather than cause harm. To this end, I think stimulant medication should be available to everyone who could use it, for temporary purposes. Same with anxiety and pain medication. Of course, on the other hand, if they lead to abuse which ends up making a person's life harder in the long run, then that person should have help available and avoid said drugs.

    Children make the issue more complicated. Again the question must be whether this drug is going to help the child in their developmental state and in the long run. What also needs to be taken into account is the effect of said drug on their physical and mental development. If they are truly so impaired that they run the risk of going down a bad path in the long run, then yes they should be given the medication. If their behavioral problems resulting from a mental condition don't cause them severe hardship, I don't think they should be given daily medication. The effect of many psychiatric drugs, and especially amphetamines, simply cannot be good for a developing mind/body.

    SWIM is diagnosed as bi-polar and ADHD, but did not start medication for it until a year ago. SWIM probably would have had a much easier life if he had started on these drugs in his early 20s, but he is certainly glad he wasn't put on them as a developing child/adolescent. Is potentially stunting someone's development permanently, to an unknown quantity, really necessary because they had trouble sitting still in 3rd grade? I think this is the question that needs to be asked when medicating children.
  13. Erumelithil
    This is an issue that I feel very strongly about. Did anyone catch Louis Theroux's programme, "America's most medicated children" a couple of weeks ago? It was very disturbing viewing.

    First of all, I have to say that I believe that ADHD is a real disorder and that I do not think that anyone is "inventing disorders in order to sell pills."

    On the other hand, watching Theroux's documentary did confirm what I had suspected all along; There are far too many psychiatrists who, when presented with a child who has trouble functioning appropriately in "normal" environments, will reach straight for the prescription pad before exploring the likelihood that the child has behavioural problems that come from how their parents treat them at home, their methods of discipline (or total lack thereof) and laying down of boundaries that most children have to learn to accept early on in life.

    In "America's most medicated children", Louis interviewed a psychiatrist who frankly admitted it, and didn't even try to hide it behind a veil of technical terms and fancy lingo.
    I don't have an exact quote, but what he said (in similar terms) was that;
    He had a lot of patients and didn't have the time or resources to examine a child's home and family life, and all the other external factors that should be taken into account when making a diagnosis. When a parent came to him with a child who had problem behaviour, they expected something to be done about it by the psychiatrist as quickly as possible.
    This meant that he had to make his diagnosis without all the relevant data, and so kids ended up medicated.

    In "America's most medicated children" there was a 10 year old boy who was diagnosed with Bipolar, from what I could tell from what I saw, this was a completely normal little boy who had a case of bad manners, however his parents seemed determined to see him as having a disease. The most innocuous acts of bad behaviour, or things he said, would be re-interpreted by the parents into something that bore no relation to what the child had said or done, for example; at one point his parents told him to think of his own punishment for something he had done. The boy sellotaped up his Nintendo Wii and put a note on it which said, "No Wii for bad behaviour".

    Seems straightforward enough right? Wrong! The parents said, and I quote their actual words, "That was a suicide letter."

    The poor kid is being doped up to the eyelids on all sorts of meds. The long term effects of simple anti-depressants can be quite damaging to an adult, I shudder to think what damage is being done to the brain chemistry and receptors in that growing, developing, child.

    There were far more cases shown, some even younger, of kids diagnosed with OCD and ADHD. Some of them clearly had issues that warranted treatment, others simply had no discipline or boundaries.
    One of the cases shown was a 15 year old girl who's mother, when asked what made her think that her daughter had a mental disorder, could only seem to make the arguement that the girl would become agitated and anxious if she didn't take her medication. As if to suggest that this was proof of a disease. When the girl stopped taking her Adderall, for the purpose of the documentary, she became agitated and irritable, as would anybody who was withdrawing from an extended session of amphetmenines!
    It's downright crazy.

    The problem, as I see it, is not just that there appear to be far too many psychiatrists who will medicate healthy kids so that their parents aren't left with the hassle of having to teach them how to behave properly. The problem is that other children, who have genuine disorders and need to be treated, medicated, counselled, or whatever, are stigmatised by the widespread opinions that things like ADHD aren't actually "real" diseases.

    ADHD is something that has been abused by lazy or incompetent parents, and weak willed cowardly psychiatrists, and because of this genuine sufferers of ADHD are not taken as seriously.

    It's as if I went to the doctor tomorrow and said, "I don't feel like getting up in the morning, dont want to go to work, I've no motivation" and the doctor was to say, "Oh, that's M.E" without asking any questions about personal life, work or any other influencing factors.

    I suppose I've rambled on enough here now,
    you get my point.

    The disorders are real, but not all the patients are.
  14. Euthanatos93420
    It's fucking stupid how many people don't know that Adderall is literally amphetamine. Every other AD(H)D med out there is stim. Ritalin is Dexedrine. I posted one of Swim's accounts over in the DXM forum when I was a nub and called DXM 'dex' and everyone thought he was talking about speed. Despite the fact that it's no pharmcy trade secret, it's fucking appalling that people don't know this about the shit they're doping they're kids with.

    My fucking god. If some pharma nazi wanted to dope my kids up I'd be asking a million fucking questions and then going to look the shit up myself just to get a gauge on how much I want to trust that doctor in the future (and before I agreed to so treat my child).
  15. Erumelithil
    Exactly! It's shocking that people don't research what the drugs they're giving their kids actually are, and then explode in furious anger.

    While I was watching that Louis Theroux doc, I found myself thinking, "If there are a lot of psychiatrists who routinely behave like this, maybe there's actually sound reasoning behind Scientology's hatred for psychiatry!"

    For those who don't know me, it's a sign that the world is going topsy turvy when I start to think that anything the Church of Scientology preaches has any basis in reality.

    I'm still a little shaken up about that bit... *shudder*
  16. Euthanatos93420
    I don't loathe psychiatry and psychology. But it says something that you can't do shit with a psychology degree and that, in contrast being a psychiatrist is on par with being a veterinarian (Being vet is far and above the title of any doctor, which is what you become if you can't cut it as a vet).

    Because quite frankly they never gave two shits about what's really going on in your head. All they ever wanted to do is sell you a bucket of pills that turn you into an unquestioning zombie and line their pockets thicker than a Columbian drug lord.

    Pun intended.
  17. Terrapinzflyer
    yes- lets not forget that homosexuality was a defined and accepted disorder for some decades.
  18. Erumelithil
    I don't know if you've had any personal experience with psychiatrists, nor will I ask you on a public forum, but your hostility towards them is suggestive.

    I've been seeing a psychiatrist for several months now and must say that I've developed more than a little hostility and scepticism towards the "science".

    Most of the people I have spoken with, who are also seeing psychiatrists, seem to share these feelings, so I guess it's a pretty common thing.

    I think it's for two reasons, firstly people often think the psychiatrists do not care about their problems. Anyone going into speak with a psychiatrist is expected to open themselves up and share some very personal and intimate things, it's a difficult thing to do and leaves the patient vulnerable and in need of advice, explanation, frankness and consideration.
    Unfortunately, to many psychiatrists, the patient is just one of many that he or she is going to see that day, even if the patient has seen that psych a few times before, the psych may not even recognise the patient or remember the previous appointment with any clarity.
    You can be damn sure that the patient recognises the psych, and remembers every word and detail of the last appointment.
    The fact that the patient is there at his or her most vulnerable, sharing their most intimate thoughts and feelings with a psychiatrist who does not care about them any more or less than the previous patient, or the next, or any of the countless faces that comes through the door, it's a very galling thing and feelings of frustration and anger are totally natural.

    I think that the 2nd reason that people are inclined to be hostile towards psychiatrists is the fact that the first reaction is to reach for a prescription pad. Personally, I felt that my problems were being trivialised by the idea that a packet of tablets was going to alleviate them.
    I felt as though I wasn't been taken seriously enough and that the psychiatrist hadn't done anything to try "crack the case" and get to the bottom of the issue. Instead, he was simply going to write out a prescription and say, "come back in two months and we'll see if there's any improvement."

    Now I know that may seem a bit self indulgent, why should I be so special that the tried and tested medications weren't enough for me to go ahead with?
    Well, the answer is, nothing. That's just how things are done, and for many people it's the right course of action and the meds do the job.
    For those of us who can't be cured by pills, it's a very frustrating thing to watch the psychiatrist just go by the numbers and go through the same rigmarole with you as they would with anybody else who was sitting across from him.
    The tendency is to think that the psych is not doing his job, he's just following a set of protocol rather than actually trying to put his training into practice and "do psychiatry".

    That coupled with the unpleasant side effects of whichever medication he has decided to try out on you next, naturally result in a steadily declining degree of faith in the psychiatrist's ability to help.
  19. Erumelithil
    That may be so, and nowadays most people would agree that it is bigoted to suggest that being gay is an indication of a sick mind, but you are not comparing like with like.

    People with mental disorders like Bipolar, Borderline Personality, schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD etc, etc, are not going to find their problems go away if the rest of the world grows up and decides to "accept" them.

    Gay people wouldn't suffer any mental hardships from being gay if it weren't for the fact that being homosexual would mean pressure, scrutiny and discrimination from small minded people in their environment, or unless they had been brought up believing it to be evil or wrong, and so thinking that they themselves were evil or wrong.

    People with actual mental disorders are not going to stop suffering if one day the stigma was to be removed.
  20. Terrapinzflyer
    hmm- my point was that homosexuality was considered a mental disorder, listed in the DSM until 1975 or thereabouts. Throughout history there have been many examples of unpopular but natural behaviour that the medical establishment chose to classify as a disorder.
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