Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bipolar disorder: the new ADHD?

It is my (non-professional but experienced) opinion that many children in both the home education and traditional school settings are grossly misdiagnosed and overmedicated. Now that ADD/ADHD diagnoses have saturated society and the use of psychotropic drugs on children as young as two is commonplace, a new disturbing trend is emerging.

Dr. ELIZABETH J. ROBERTS believes that, at the insistence of the parents, "doctors are medicating far too many kids who just need a better upbringing." She writes:

In September 2007, researchers at Columbia University reported that there had been a 40-fold increase in the number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder from 1994 to 2003 -- an increase which has shown no signs of slowing.

Worse than the current frenzy to diagnose children with bipolar disorder is the practice of medicating kids as young as 2 with the kinds of psychiatric medications that were once prescribed only to psychotic adults. The shocking reality is that the use of these potent anti-psychotic drugs in children increased more than 500 percent between 1993 and 2002. [snip]

The symptoms, which are regarded as evidence of bipolar disorder, usually are what most people recognize as ordinary belligerence. Children who have anger outbursts, who refuse to go to bed, who are moody and self-centered under the current standard of care in child psychiatry are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. To most rational human beings, these behaviors describe an ill-mannered, immature and poorly disciplined child. Nonetheless, the temper tantrums of belligerent children are increasingly being characterized by doctors as the mood swings of bipolar disorder. [snip]

When it comes to misdiagnosing and overmedicating children, doctors have an unwitting, though not unwilling, accomplice -- the parent. Ultimately, it is the parent who is the gatekeeper for their child's health-care delivery. It is the parent who pursues psychiatric treatment for their child, fills the prescriptions and administers the medications. Parents have a duty to protect their children from the folly of this disastrous approach to childhood behavior problems. [snip]

Instead of grooming, feeding and educating the next generation of Americans to be the fittest, brightest, most competent contributors on the planet, we have indulged, placated and spoiled our children into dysfunctional misfits. We are teaching our children to use a psychiatric diagnosis to excuse their antisocial behaviors. This will inevitably lead to a greater reliance on psychiatric medications, which unfortunately do not endow an individual with improved self-control or maturity.


Rational Jenn said...

Seriously scary. I wonder what these kids will be like in 10 or 15 years. How awful for everyone.

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kitten said...

Wow! And they wonder why we have so many drug heads in this world.
Thanks for the info.

LaDonnaMobile said...

This is a HUGE issue for me; I have several friends whose children are medicated--I tried recommending Frank Lawlis' book "The ADD Answer" which recommends alternatives to medication but--go figure--these friends are T.V. junkie non-readers. So now what? Is there a site, podcast, or documentary to help convince the non-readers I know that there are healthier alternatives to medicating children? PLEASE TELL!

Lisa said...

I am not a professional either but breifly this is my exsperience. I grew up with a brother who is schizophrenic. I also have worked in child care and the school system. There are many people with serious brain chemistry disorders and benefit greatly from the medications available. That being said, I think misdiagnosing children is so common and a scary trend. In the school district I worked in, there were close to 3000 children on different types of ritalin type medications. 10 in the before and after school program I ran. In my opinion, 2 of the 10 needed help. The other children, though a handful, were well within normal range. The danger is we don't know the long term effects of theses medication and studies have found that some stunt maturation( anti -phychotic drugs) Trying to medicate a toddler out of the terrible twos is insane. Every age has challenges and immature behavior. They are children after all. When a child is miserable or can't function is the only time to intervene with drugs. By not function, I mean, can't eat, sleep, play, do what normal children do. I don't mean can't sit still at a desk for 7 hours. In my generation all children had their tonsils taken out. The next one all had tubes in their ears. This one gets ritalin. Nuts.