With one out of every six Americans now taking some type of medication in this category, psychiatric drug use is on the rise in the U.S. Given the scary side effects and poor effectiveness of many of these drugs, this is highly concerning.
There is one particularly disturbing aspect of this trend that seems to get glossed over and that is the extraordinary number of children who are taking such drugs.
Mental health watchdog group Citizens Commission on Human Rights is drawing attention to the concerning fact that more than a million kids younger than six in our nation are currently taking psychiatric drugs.
That’s right: babies are being given psychiatric drugs as well. The number rises for toddlers aged two to three, with 370,778 kids in this category taking psychiatric drugs overall. An incredible 274,804 of them are younger than a year old, while around half of these children are four to five years old.
The situation only gets worse as kids get older shows the Data from IMS Health, with 4,130,340 kids aged 6 to 12 taking some type of psychiatric drug.
You might be forgiven for assuming that most of these statistics are made up by kids taking ADHD drugs given how common that approach seems to be nowadays, but it really only accounts for a small portion of it, with 1,422 of those younger than a year old and just over 181,000 of those aged four to five taking ADHD drugs.
The biggest category of psychotic drugs given to children appears to be anti-anxiety drugs, as antipsychotics and antidepressants put forth some surprising figures. Just over 227,132 babies under one and nearly 248,000 of those aged four to five take these medications.
These numbers are even more shocking considering the fact that experts believe these estimates are far too low and the real numbers are actually much higher, due to the fact that some doctors hand out psychiatric medications for “off-label” uses.
This risky practice entails giving out a drug to treat something that it is not indicated for and the long-term effects of such an approach are completely unknown.
SAFER ALTERNATIVES TO GIVING KIDS MIND-ALTERING MEDS
It may be ill-advised in many cases when adults choose to take psychiatric medication, but it is still their choice to make. On the other hand, children, lack the cognition to fully understand the lifelong impact of such a choice and this essentially amounts to forced medication.
Many doctors have a financial incentive to get young people to start taking these drugs as we already know, but why are their parents so willing to get on board? Many of them are also taking psychiatric medications, of course.
As a matter of fact, it has practically become a way of life in our nation and many people think that these meds are harmless.
The side effects of these drugs are nothing to scoff at. However, antidepressant, antianxiety and antipsychotic drugs are linked to diabetes, stroke, mania, heart attacks, psychosis, suicidal ideation, and sudden death.
There’s also the fact that many of the high-profile public shootings in recent years were perpetrated by young people on such drugs, as if that weren’t bad enough. Not only do kids have the risk of dying when they take these meds, but they could also take out a whole classroom or movie theater with them.
Psychiatric medications affect a child’s brain chemistry and could impact their development in irreversible ways, so it’s important for doctors and parents alike to reserve them as an absolute last resort. As they start to understand the way the world works, some degree of anxiety is normal in children. Life is full of ups and downs.
Children who learn coping strategies when they’re young will have a valuable skill that can serve them well throughout their lifetime. There are lots of good coping mechanisms that can help children with depression, anxiety, and those who have been labeled with ADHD, including art therapy, breathing exercises, yoga and physical exercise, to name just a few.