Psychiatric drug use is on the rise in the U.S., with one out of every six Americans now taking some type of medication in this category. This is highly concerning given the scary side effects and poor effectiveness of many of these drugs, but 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.
While around half of these children are four to five years old, an incredible 274,804 of them are younger than a year old. That’s right: babies are being given psychiatric drugs. The number rises for toddlers aged two to three, with 370,778 kids in this category taking psychiatric drugs overall.
Data from IMS Health shows that the situation only gets worse as kids get older, 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.
Antidepressants and antipsychotics put forth some surprising figures, but the biggest category of psychotic drugs given to children appears to be anti-anxiety drugs. Just over 227,132 babies under one and nearly 248,000 of those aged four to five take these medications. …
Mental Illness Strikes Babies, Too
But their plight, which had been overlooked, is getting more attention.
WEDNESDAY, April 16 (HealthDayNews) — Babies and toddlers are too young to take Prozac or complain about their childhoods, but psychologists are finding their tender age doesn’t protect them from mental illness.
Children under the age of 3 can suffer from symptoms of depression, including disruptions in eating and sleep. In recent years, researchers have discovered the youngest humans can even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, once thought to be only an illness of adults.
“The picture has totally changed,” says Alicia Lieberman, director of the Child Trauma Research Project at San Francisco General Hospital.
Although much of psychology is built upon the influences of childhood, psychologists haven’t always paid much attention to the earliest years of a child’s life. Only in the late 1960s and 1970s did researchers begin to understand the importance of the relationships between infants and those who take care of them, says Alice Sterling Honig, professor emerita of child development at Syracuse University.
Researchers watched how infants reacted when their parents went to the hospital and found signs of trouble. “First, the little babies would protest enormously and search around frantically,” Honig says. “But after a while, they’d go into a despair and withdraw and look listless, with dull eyes, as if they gave up looking for their special person.”…
(As they’re brought back to the scene of their most traumatic life experiences, medicalized birth and, for boys, circumcision. Normal people could not possibly miss the connection here, but doctors and medical researchers are apparently not normal people.)
And more generally: