Over medicating kids?

Sarah - posted on 04/19/2010 ( 26 moms have responded )

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So i watched a Louis Theroux documentary last night about America's over medication of children diagnosed with things like ADHD and Bi-polar disorder.
One child was 6 years old and on anti-depressants for OCD.

Here's a link to an article related to the show:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8618...

What are your thoughts? Is America too quick to medicate? Are other countries just as bad?
Is it just parents being too lazy to deal with a "difficult" child?

(I've got to go to work, so will post my views later! *sigh*)
:)

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Sharon - posted on 04/19/2010

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You know what I wonder? All these issues came to light at about the same time parents decided spankings were inappropriate.



I also think a lot of parents would rather shove a pill in their kids mouth than face the fact they are lousy parents.



This is coming from the woman who has an adhd kid and we did try meds but after we had tried everything else.



I believe these conditions are real. I just don't believe they are as prevalent as as these forums and the medical community would have us believe. I think doctors are semi forced to give kids these drugs by the parents by the pharmaceutical reps, by their healthcare programs....

Lea - posted on 04/19/2010

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Sugar is a drug and until parents understand what is in food they will continue to have behavior problems with their kids and have to resort to other drugs to counteract the one their child is having to take with every bite. School lunches are not at all healthy and the government is partly to blame in this problem.

Lindsay - posted on 04/19/2010

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I definately think that these disorders tend to be over-diagnosed. And it truly is a shame because they are real and some kids really do suffer from them. Personally, I believe a lot of cases stem from parents not being parents. Sharon, I do think that it's rather alarming that the numbers sky-rocketed close to the time that spanking was frowned upon. And while I don't agree with spanking, I think that people took that to mean don't disipline at all instead of changing the way you disipline. Then when their kids got out of control, it was because something was wrong with the child. My goodness, it couldn't possibly be that we as parents could do something wrong! *gasp*



As far as Americans being to quick to medicate, we are notorious for wanting everything 5 minutes ago. If we don't see immediate results, it's not working. I'm guilty of it. In a fast paced world, we don't have time to wait anything out. Is it right? No, but I can definately see how that happens and becomes a problem.

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LaCi - posted on 04/20/2010

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"I wonder if ADHD etc are diagnosed the same way in America and other countries as they are in UK?"



They are supposed to be diagnosed the same. It's by the same book. However, it becomes up to the diagnosing as to whether or not the symptoms are normal for the age or a problem. I've realized in these threads I do have ADD, by the book. Not sure what I'll be doing about that at this point. Adult onset mind you, I wasn't like this as a child.



Jenny: I didn't mean sugar isn't a problem, my intention was to point out that there are so many chemicals in our food sugar shouldn't be singled out as a drug, its all a drug. Cheese produces opiate like effects when being digested. I agree that diet should be considered.





I just read the article, it amazes me that a child that young is on seroquel and still functioning, honestly. Seroquel is a zombie pill. many of the kids I worked with were on it, very frightening drug.

Jenny - posted on 04/20/2010

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"Sugar is a drug and until parents understand what is in food they will continue to have behavior problems with their kids and have to resort to other drugs to counteract the one their child is having to take with every bite. "

Everything you put into your body, with the exception of water-if its pure, is a drug. That would include a carrot. I agree that people need to be aware of what's going into their body, but sugar is the least cause for concern with that we are eating.




My brother in law would go into violent rages as a child. After a few years it was discovered he was having a reaction to sugar. His intake was limited and there were no more incidents. I've heard of people having issues with certain dyes in our foods as well.

I beleive if we really look into the root causes of upswings in mental issues with kids it would lead directly back to our food and other environmental pressures.

I mean the stuff that is not a direct results of lazy parenting and "kids being kids" of course.

Sarah - posted on 04/20/2010

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Thanks Cathy! I was reading down the list of symptoms thinking "wow, i'm a bit like that!"

I wonder if ADHD etc are diagnosed the same way in America and other countries as they are in UK?

Iris - posted on 04/20/2010

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I think they are over medicating. Sure, there are kids that have adhd or add and need medicine but I've also seen it abused .
When we lived in Germany, my next door neighbor had two kids on add/adhd drugs and my neighbor on the other side had both her boys on add/adhd drugs. All of them seem to really need to have there dose re-evaluated because they looked like zombies, but hey, the moms thought they needed it. During the summer vacation they took them off the meds and the poor kids actually had personalities. Since I new these women well I often mentioned that they needed to get the dose re-evaluated but they were just fine with things the way they were. I felt so sad for the children though.
My other neighbor, it had actually been suggested by the kids teacher that her son was add. That boy is one of the best behaved boys I've ever seen, and the mother refused (good for her!).

Sarah - posted on 04/20/2010

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I was looking at some of the symptoms of ADHD and it seems like it could describe every child to some degree, and me!
Things like non stop talking, fidgeting, inability to concentrate, etc.
I wonder if some parents read down a list like that and think "That's my kid!!!!"
The thing is, i suspect a child with actual ADHD, has extreme versions of all those symptoms.

My husband seems to think that my eldest has hyperactivity issues. I think she's just a 5 year old. Yes, she talks non stop, yes she runs around like a maniac a lot, she can't always concentrate on the task at hand. However, she is only 5! I still have trouble concentrating sometimes!

I just wonder if because a lot of the symptoms are often just part of being a child, that some people are getting confused between a energetic child and a child with ADHD? :)

Jodi - posted on 04/19/2010

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Kati, that's the trouble I think - there are a lot of doctors out there not worth a damn.



I just found out the other day that when my husband's ex said she had my step-son's bedwetting issues checked out by a doctor, she took him to her family doctor, who told her ""oh, he'll grow out of it, there's nothing wrong". All along we thought he'd been checked out medically, and the doctor did NOTHING. The kid is 10!! SHe wasn't aware that there were tests that should be done (yeah, I know, not bright). We are furious, and contacting our pediatrician to look into it. But some doctors are hopeless, and really don't have a clue. Some have no right to be hanging out their shingle.

Rosie - posted on 04/19/2010

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i guess i don't understand how they can be diagnosed at that age, or that any doctor would diagnose and medicate at that age. my ped. wouldn't diagnose, he's not qualified, i had to go to a psychologist, just like my sister had to, and one of my good friends had to.
i can understand how parents could freak out and want to get their child diagnosed, but any doctor worth a damn wouldn't diagnose just cause their parent wants them to. maybe the parents are lying, i don't know. that would make sense to me, that a parent wants an answer so they make up things or exaggerate to get their child diagnosed. but once again, my life experiences have led me to believe otherwise. maybe it's different in different parts of the country i don't know, but for me it wasn't easy.

LaCi - posted on 04/19/2010

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"Sugar is a drug and until parents understand what is in food they will continue to have behavior problems with their kids and have to resort to other drugs to counteract the one their child is having to take with every bite. "

Everything you put into your body, with the exception of water-if its pure, is a drug. That would include a carrot. I agree that people need to be aware of what's going into their body, but sugar is the least cause for concern with that we are eating.

La - posted on 04/19/2010

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I think most Americans in general are over medicated. Just because there is a pill for everything that doesn't mean that you should always take it. Sometimes it is better to let your body's immune system do what it was designed to do (instead of taking meds for a common cold for example)...and sometimes people just want the easy way out (such as those people who put their kids on ADD meds when the child is simply a high energy child who needs parental attention.)

Jodi - posted on 04/19/2010

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Kati, as long as there are doctors out there prepared to diagnose overactive 3 year olds as ADHD, I think there is a problem, and I WILL believe that it makes it easier for all concerned. That is WAY too young to be diagnosing and medicating children.



If your kid is genuinely ADHD, then of course the chemical in his brain are firing incorrectly. That's the point. If you went through proper diagnosis, it shouldn't be an issue. A proper diagnosis will prove that the brain function is off. The problem is, there are many children being diagnosed with insufficient evaluation, and yet still being prescribed medication. THESE are the situations that have led to public perception that it is being overdiagnosed, and as I said earlier, therefore more difficult for those who genuinely DO have the disorder.

Rosie - posted on 04/19/2010

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i somewhat believe that we are overmedicating, but on the other hand i don't. i feel conditions like adhd are being diagnosed more because more people are aware of the condition, and more doctors know what to look for. not because there's any more kids that have it than before, just more kids are diagnosed because we know more about it.
i truly know of no one who has an adhd kid (oh god, i said adhd kid, not a kid with adhd, now i'm labeling the child by their disorder, bah!!) that had an easy time getting their child diagnosed. nor was it easy firguring what medicine and how much of it to use. my oldest has adhd, and it irks me to no end that i'm made to feel like i'm making it up, or he's just a bad kid. his brain doesn't function properly, he takes medicine, so what? i feel i'm helping him, not hindering him. nobody knows what my child is like without his medication except for his family, and to judge what other peoples children are like seems silly to me. how do we know these kids are being over diagnosed? is there a study out there that shows how many kids are diagnosed with adhd, but don't really have it? until i see something like that, then i can jump on the bandwagon a little more. but until then, i'll just continue to think it's some old wives tale made up by people who have no clue what its like to have an adhd child.

Sharon - posted on 04/19/2010

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I disagree with you Caitlin. Even if parents discipline different but evenly, fairly and back the other parent, its discipline.



And I stand moderately corrected, lol, it is the lack of any discipline, not just the lack of spankings that is causing this.



Oh and drugs. I honestly think there is some effect on cells and fetuses (is that a word?).

Jodi - posted on 04/19/2010

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With regard to the medicating issue, I totally agree that as a society we are overdiagnosing behavioural issues. I do believe they are very real disorders, and I do believe that there are times medication is needed, but I do believe that lack of discipline is part of the issue. Labelling a child's behaviour and loading them up with medication is a parenting cop out for some. And unfortunately, because it is being overdiagnosed these days, it makes it difficult for those who genuinely DO have these disorders.

Jodi - posted on 04/19/2010

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Caitlin, I completely disagree with you that a child who spends a lot of time at daycare would be confused about discipline. I went back to work when my son was only 6 weeks old (his father looked after him for a while, and then he went to daycare), and then I raised him as a single mother from the time he was 2. He attended full-time daycare until he started school, and once at school, he was in after school care every day until I decided to stay at home with my second child when he was 7. I worked very long hours. He would be in daycare from 8:30am until 6pm. He was never confused about discipline, and I have never had any issues with him at all. He knew exactly who to respect!!! He also knew when I said something I was serious, even though he was with teachers and carers all day. He is now going on 13 and a most respectful young man, who very rarely talks back to me, is going well at school, and has no behavioural issues. I don't believe kids are as "confused"as you think. They just lack discipline at home altogether, it has nothing to do with confusion and daycare.



You'd be amazed how easily children adapt to different sets of discipline with different people. My son has also been going backwards and forwards from his father's house alternate weekends since he was 2, and that never confused him either. He knew the rules in each house were a little different, and adjusted himself accordingly. The important thing is consistency of discipline in EACH place.

Caitlin - posted on 04/19/2010

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The thing i've noticed with the families that have both parents working is a lack of consistency in discipline. The kids don 't know who to respect. I'm currently a stay at home mom, so my daughter knows when I say to do something, she knows i'm serious, but a child that spends a lot of time at daycare wont know if they should be respecting their teachers or their parents, adn sometimes punishments aren't the same, so the child gets confused. Also, there is that issue of making up for not being there by spoiling their kids.

Krista - posted on 04/19/2010

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I don't think it really stems from the two-working-parents phenomenon, Caitlin. Even in days when the mother always stayed home with the child, oftentimes there were multiple children to deal with, plus all of the cooking, baking, housework, laundry, errands, etc. etc. etc. So even though the mom was there, she would have been no less tired in the evening than a modern mother who is in an office all day.

Now, it IS possible that part of this might be due to working mothers feeling so damn guilty about working that they become overindulgent. I have seen that happen before.

But I think that a lot of it is just due to modern pop psychology that started convincing people that any little bit of negativity in a child's life could be a crushing blow to his or her self-esteem. Sort of a "participation trophy" syndrome. Too many parents want to be their kid's friend, and to never hurt their feelings. So when the child is practically lighting the damn house on fire, they'll just sit there and say gently, "Now, now...that's not nice." I think that attitude is more to blame than parental exhaustion due to work.

Caitlin - posted on 04/19/2010

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Oh man I worked at a daycamp a few years ago and almost half the kids were on ritalin.. honestly, they just probably needed to go to the park to run around and play to burn off the energy, and lay off the sugary cereal for breakfast every morning. I saw parents bribing their preschoolers with king sized boxes of smarties and buying them cans of pepsi and coke - then saying they have so much energy and they donnt listen to me, they need medication. It's insane. I know these things do exist and I could point out the kids who actually needed the medication they were on, there weren't that many. I would try almost anything before putting my kid on medications, especially since ritalin in incredibly addictive, and kids become dependant on it so quickly that it's hard to wean them off the medication later on.



I truly feel for the parents of the kids with actual problems because of the stigma, but now it almost seems like you're the odd one out if you DON'T medicate your kids! One could also say the discipline thing stems from both parents having to work out of the home, and the prevalence of young children being put in daycare all day long all week long while both parents work, and when they both get home, they have no energy to enforce rules or discipline their children. Just another possibility.

Carolee - posted on 04/19/2010

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Okay... so I've got OCD and I'm bi-polar WITH severe depression... AND I'M NOT ON MEDS!!! There are ways to cope with these things and adapt to your own unique way of life without medicine. Yes, some people need them to survive and be able to cope while in public. I, personally, don't go out in public all the time. I'm a stay-at-home mom for a reason. I can't cope with working. I hyperventilate and have panic attacks and have even fainted. I won't put my kids on any medication unless I have exhausted every other possibility. I also plan on continuing learning about child psychology so that I can decide the best route for my family (with input from doctors, of course). Granted, my kids are 2 1/2 years and about-to-be-born in 3 months, so I haven't actually had to deal with any of this, but that's my plan so far.

Sarah - posted on 04/19/2010

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Ok, back from work! lol.

I pretty much fall on the same side of the fence as Sharon. I believe these conditions exist, but i do think that it seems to be over diagnosed these days.
I totally think that parents should exhaust every other option before medicating their kids.

The 6 yr old who was on anti-depressants for OCD, one of his "symptoms" was that he "didn't like to lose". I think most people, and definitely most 6 yr old's would prefer to win! They showed a clip of him losing at a game, and he started shouting and throwing himself around, the Mum just sat there going, "Oh Jack, never mind" smiling and rolling her eyes. I wonder if she had sat him down and said in a stern voice "That is NOT how we behave" or something, they may have got a bit further with curbing his reaction to losing?

Another thing that struck me was how addicted to these drugs some of kids seemed. I wonder if it's a vicious cycle, if they don't take their meds, they start getting withdrawl symptoms, so they act like they wouldn't normally act, ie. irritable, rude, anxious so they're given the drugs again. (if that makes sense)

My other thought was that their did seem to be a lack of discipline with some of kids. I wonder if perhaps a stronger tact (not necessarily spanking, but it might have worked! lol) may have changed some of their habits and reactions to things.

One of the families the Mum, Dad, son, and even the dog were on medication!!

I'll stress again that i do believe some kids do genuinely benefit from these medicines, and i don't think that anyone who has kids on meds is lazy or anything.
I just think that perhaps some parents (and doctors) are far to quick to get the prescription pad out.

Krista - posted on 04/19/2010

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In some cases yes, in some cases no.



I think that there are many parents and physicians out there who use medication as the first option, before exploring other avenues.



And unfortunately, it's created this perception that all kids are overmedicated.



So then, you have some parents who watch their child struggle with a genuine psychological disorder for years on end, because they don't want to resort to meds, and they feel like a terrible parent when they finally give in and ask for a prescription.



I don't think it does us a whole lot of good to make a blanket statement about how kids are overmedicated, because it just stigmatizes those parents whose kids really DO need meds. But there should be some sort of messaging out there about how it's really important to explore other options first.

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