In her article, More Kids Than Ever Are on Antipsychotics: But is There an Alternative? (Forbes online, August 18, 2012) Alice G. Walton reports that the prescribing of antipsychotics for kids jumped seven times from the years 1993-1990 and 2005-2009. She sites a professional paper stating that attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder accounted for 37.8% of antipsychotic use for non-psychotic illnesses of which these medications were never FDA approved to treat making these “off-label” uses for this class of drugs.
The FDA has approved only three antipsychotic drugs for use in pediatric patients: haloperidol, thioridazine hydrochloride and pimozide. I find it interesting that approximately 90 percent of antipsychotics prescribed are for the second-generation drugs: clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine, and quetiapine. which have not been approved for use in those under 18 years of age. With only 14% of the drugs being prescribed for psychotic disorders. The balance were prescribed for non-psychotic disorders such as: disruptive behavior disorders, mood disorders, or pervasive developmental disorders or mental retardation.
This is scary because not enough is known about the metabolic effects of newer antipsychotics, particularly the long-term effects in young people. This according to Ray Sahelian, M.D. In his article Antipsychotic Drugs Side Effects and Danger.
There are numerous problems with prescribing these harsh medications to youth. Their brains are quickly developing and with it their mental, physical and sexual capacities. We are not certain what the long term effects may be since the FDA does not require any long term studies to validate the safety of longer term use. What is known is that if the drugs are stopped the symptoms return. We also know that after three years of use the medications seem to work less well. We also know that with the use of these drugs kids are at risk for weight gain, abnormalities in their metabolism of fat and diabetes.
According to Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. (UNPA annual meeting May 16, 2012)
if the child is placed on the antipsychotic Seroquel, there is a risk of developing osteoporosis as their calcium stores are depleted during a time when they ought to be building.
One needs to understand that children show their symptoms differently than adults with depression and anxiety looking like disruptive behavior disorder given the anger and irritability that can be demonstrated. I have found in my practice that there are much easier ways to deal with a child who is dealing with anxiety or depression without the need for drugs. Many of the kids who made it into my practice were brought by parents who were employed in the medical and mental health fields not desiring to place their child on medication. In one case, the child refused to take his antidepressant medication throwing it on the floor, hiding it in the couch cushions and doing anything with it but taking it.
Given the above information would it be useful to think of other ways to deal with your child’s issues other than the use of these toxic drugs being used for off-label use?
Alternative ways to deal with a child’s problem are available.
1) Instead of jumping to the conclusion that your child is dealing with a major mental health issue, maybe you could speak to your child to see what may be going on.
2) Seek out alternative reasons for the presenting problem – diet can cause many symptoms that can spark emotional and behavioral symptoms. Get your child checked for food sensitivities. Without the correct nutrition many mental health symptoms can arise.
3) Meditation and hypnotic practices such as visualization to relax the child are also very helpful.
Most of all it is important to realize that children are people and as such they are going to have their times when they are feeling challenged by life. During those times validation of their feelings and giving them strategies to effectively deal with these challenges, will in most cases do much more to help them than being placed on antipsychotic medication that could create more problems in the long run and most likely will be of little use unless your child is diagnosed with an illness that has psychotic features as part of the symptoms.
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