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Why Are We Drugging Our Kids?

Psychiatric drugs are overprescribed and can even make mental symptoms worse in kids. They're also a goldmine for drug companies.
 
 
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Prescriptions for psychiatric drugs increased 50 percent with children in the US, and 73 percent among adults, from 1996 to 2006, according to a study in the May/June 2009 issue of the journal Health Affairs. Another study in the same issue of Health Affairs found spending for mental health care grew more than 30 percent over the same ten-year period, with almost all of the increase due to psychiatric drug costs.

On April 22, 2009, the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that in 2006 more money was spent on treating mental disorders in children aged 0 to 17 than for any other medical condition, with a total of $8.9 billion. By comparison, the cost of treating trauma-related disorders, including fractures, sprains, burns, and other physical injuries, was only $6.1 billion.

In 2008, psychiatric drug makers had overall sales in the US of $14.6 billion from antipsychotics, $9.6 billion off antidepressants, $11.3 billion from antiseizure drugs and $4.8 billion in sales of ADHD drugs, for a grand total of $40.3 billion.

The path to child drugging in the US started with providing adolescents with stimulants for ADHD in the early 80s. That was followed by Prozac in the late 80s, and in the mid-90s drug companies started claiming that ADHD kids really had bipolar disorder, coinciding with the marketing of epilepsy drugs as "mood stablizers" and the arrival of the new atypical antipsychotics.

Parents can now have their kids declared disabled due to mental illness and receive Social Security disability payments and free medical care, and schools can get more money for disabled kids. The bounty for the prescribing doctors and pharmacies is enormous and the CEOs of the drug companies are laughing all the way into early retirement.

Psychiatric Drugs Explained

During an interview with Street Spirit in August 2005, investigative journalist and author of "Mad in America," Robert Whitaker, described the dangers of psychiatric drugs. "When you look at the research literature, you find a clear pattern of outcomes with all these drugs," he said, "you see it with the antipsychotics, the antidepressants, the anti-anxiety drugs and the stimulants like Ritalin used to treat ADHD."

"All these drugs may curb a target symptom slightly more effectively than a placebo does for a short period of time, say six weeks," Whitaker said. However, what "you find with every class of these psychiatric drugs is a worsening of the target symptom of depression or psychosis or anxiety, over the long term, compared to placebo-treated patients."

"So even on the target symptoms, there's greater chronicity and greater severity of symptoms," he reports, "And you see a fairly significant percentage of patients where new and more severe psychiatric symptoms are triggered by the drug itself."

Whitaker told Street Spirit that the rate of Americans disabled by mental illness has skyrocketed since Prozac came on the market in 1987, and reports: (1) the number of mentally disabled people in the US has been increasing at a rate of 150,000 people per year since 1987, (2) that represents an increase of 410 new people per day and (3) the disability rate has continued to increase and one in every 50 Americans is disabled by mental illness.

The statistics above beg the question of how could this happen when the so-called new generation of "wonder drugs" arrived on the market during the exact same time period. The truth is, the "wonder drugs" cause most of the bizarre behaviors listed by doctors to warrant a mental illness disability.

Psychiatric Drug Goldmine

 
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