psychotropic medication use in children Essay

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There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the issue of children being medicated with powerful psychotropic medications. Psychological disorders, such as bipolar disorder, that were once believed only to effect adults, are now being diagnosed in children, and those children are, more often than not, now being treated with medications. The number of children being diagnosed and treated with psychotropic medications has rapidly increased in recent years. A report issued by Medco Health Solutions in 2010 states that the number of children being prescribed psychotropic medications doubled from 2001 to 2010. Psychotropic medications can be defined as "any medication capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behavior"(medicine net). The classes of psychotropic medications are; Stimulants, such as Adderall- prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Antidepressants, such as Prozac- prescribed for depression, Anti-psychotics such as Haldol - prescribed for behavioral disorders, and Mood Stabilizers, such as Depakote - prescribed for bipolar disorders. These medications have been shown to "stunt growth, cause obsessive behaviors, suppress spontaneity, and cause children to become depressed and less social"(Breggin, 2009). This paper will discuss what research suggests about the potentially negative effects of these medications on a child’s physical, cognitive, and socioemotional development. In addition, this paper will also examine the potential reasons these medications are increasingly prescribed, and alternative treatments for some of the psychological disorders that these kinds of medications are prescribed for. Most children, by nature, are very active, spontaneous, and moody. Still, many parents seek psychiatric help for their children who exhibit behaviors, such as these, that are simply typical in childhood. For example, the basis for diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is hyperactivity and lack of concentration, which is a very common trait of children, especially males. Even very young children are now being put on psychotropic medications, for showing what some would claim are abnormal behaviors, such as impulsiveness and sleeplessness. Dr. Candida Fink states that "typical preschool development includes immature mood regulation and impulse control. Sleep problems are incredibly common in toddlers and preschoolers, as are temper tantrums". While these medications have shown to have some benefits, such as improved performance in school and reduction of family and parental stress, numerous studies that have shown that the many negative side effects seem to outweigh the benefits. The list of nearly thirty recognized side effects includes; gastrointestinal problems, dramatic changes in mood and personality, growth suppression, and even the possibility of permanent brain damage. In a 2002 Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dr. Mark Olfson states that "data about the...

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