Reply Mon 23 Apr, 2012 08:51 am
I've been reading a lot about a new book called "Dosed, The Medication Generation Grows Up" and it has left some scattered ideas around my head. I decided to go ahead and post something about it to see if I it would help me string some of these thoughts together.

The Daily Beast reports:

Quote:
By 2009, 25 percent of American college kids would be prescribed some kind of psychotropic medication, according to a new book called Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up.

The author, Kaitlin Bell Barnett, is squarely a member of this medication generation. Now 30, she went on Prozac when she was still in high school to treat her clinical depression. In her debut book, she has put together a serious-minded assemblage of research and anecdotes that addresses the question of what it means to grow up in a generation that’s been infiltrated by pharmacology like no other generation has before.

This conversation is long overdue.

.........

Drugs, Barnett writes, “reshape some of one’s interpretations about oneself and one’s life but allow traces of experience and markers of identity to remain.”

But, she continues, “the earlier in life the drugs are begun, the fewer and fainter those traces and markers are likely to be.”

What, Barnett asks, does it mean when you start medication at such an early age that you have no history to rewrite?

The implications of Barnett’s book are important and unnerving.

If a child is dosed with psychotropic drugs throughout the process of growing up, what does that mean for their sense of agency? For their ability to achieve mastery over their emotions and behavior? Who would they be if not for their pill?

As the psychiatrist David Mintz observes, kids who’ve taken meds throughout their formative years, can often “end up thinking of their feelings not as guides but simply as symptoms.”

Beyond these crucial questions about how pills interact with identity, there’s yet a more basic one to be asked.

What do these pills mean for children’s bodies and brains?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/15/generation-rx-review-of-dosed-the-medication-generation-grows-up.html


Poking around a little I came across this article written by her that discusses the fact that many mood stabilizing drugs have an impact on libido and she questions how that might complicate a kid's psycho-sexual development: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/my-meds/2012/04/sexual-side-effects-young-people-should-we-worry/#more-865

I have to agree that we've become nonchalant about prescribing mood/behavior changing drugs to kids. There is something vaguely creepy to me about what seems to be almost a desire to standardize thought and behavior -- that "feeling" something intensely is a sign of mental illness.

What do you think?

 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Apr, 2012 05:47 pm
@boomerang,
I'm fairly anti-medication.

Not to the extent that I don't vaccinate, or anything like that. Just, I think medication, in general, is way over-prescribed and that there are often other avenues.

Not always. But often.

I've been appalled at how often and with how little provocation antibiotics have been thrown at sozlet, for example. I've really had to argue on that even though I have ample research to back me up.

When she needs antibiotics, she needs antibiotics. I won't not give them to her in that situation. But there's a lot of "prophylactic" or "it'll be cured in a fortnight if you do nothing and just 14 days with antibiotics" stuff that happens.

I also had a single test that showed hypothyroidism that had my doctor arguing quite strongly for me to go on a medication that, I found out with research, I'd have to be on for the rest of my life. I also found out with research that it has interactions with a variety of other drugs. So if I go on this drug for hypothyroidism now, and then later I have a heart problem (or something, I forget what all of the interactions were), the choices of medications I'd have then would be limited.

I said I wanted to try exercise first -- I know I always get out of whack physically when I don't exercise enough. My doctor strongly disagreed, and sent me an email that I still have about all of the bad things that would happen to me within a short time period (six months or so) if I didn't start taking this medication.

They didn't happen. And after I'd been exercising for a while, I took the test again and was back in the normal range. Some six years on, I'm fine. (I do need to get back to exercising though to stay fine, I think.)

Anyway, that's just one example of many -- I'm forever finding myself arguing against leaping to the pharmacological solution, whether on my own behalf or sozlet's.

It's a lot of work. (I need to find a more simpatico doctor but searches have thus far been fruitless and I don't want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Although really, I can just change again if I have to. This just came up again very recently and I made the decision as of last Friday that we're changing. I don't trust my doctor, and that doesn't work. But I digress.) And I think a lot of people are more inclined than I am to just go ahead with what the doctor says.

Anyway, yes, I think there's a dangerous nonchalance. I think some of that comes from doctors, some of it comes from patients who want the quick fix. Some of it comes from big pharma.

That's about medicine in general though, less about your specific article. What you quote makes sense, and I see the concern. It's not something I know a lot about one way or the other (the psychotropic side of things). Did just read a very interesting article -- New York Times? -- about how Prozac and such work, and why they might work differently on different people. Here it is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/the-science-and-history-of-treating-depression.html
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Apr, 2012 06:12 pm
We're also fairly non-medication here.

Jane has a pretty good immune system and bounces back from colds quite easily and doesn't need more than ordinary home remedies to
combat a cold.
She's had an ear infection a few times due to the pool at school and there she got antibiotic drops for her ears, but that's about it.

As for prescribing mood/behavior changing drugs to kids - I am completely against it, unless there was a traumatic experience.

dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 12:31 am
@boomerang,
Bookmark

0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 06:38 am
@sozobe,
Mr B and I see the same doctor. She never prescribes me medicine but she does for him. I guess she has a good "read" on how we're likely to respond to the suggestion that something is wrong and needs treatment.

When Mo was little he was sick ALL the time. Shortly after he came to live with us he was diagnosed with asthma. We had the prescription filled for the inhalers -- one for each car, one for my purse, one for the house -- they all sit untouched to this day. I still question that diagnosis.

I have been on anti-depressants twice, for a longish duration each time, both times as an adult. I never really felt like they masked anything but they did make life more manageable. When I went off of them I knew what I was returning to and felt okay with that. I guess that's why this article kept knocking around in my head -- her question about growing up medicated and not really having an unmedicated point of reference is a good one.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 06:51 am
@CalamityJane,
I know a 2nd grader who is on anti-psychotics. To the outside world she seems like a normal kid but I know the kid and the whole family were suffering terribly because of her behavior. Now they're able to live a pretty normal life.

Every teacher (except this year's) has insisted Mo has ADD (despite a diagnosis to the contrary) and that he would benefit from medication. I have always resisted but they can really make you feel like an abusive parent for not giving your kid drugs to manage their behavior. I've found that as he matures he's much better able to control his impulses.

I've read that in some cases there is the suspicion that ADD is really just immaturity. I believe it.

I have a friend who is a psychiatrist. She tells me that parents bring their kids in demanding drugs for all kinds of problems they have diagnosed their children as having. If she won't give them a prescription they go out and find a doctor who will.

People want a quick fix.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 07:11 am
@boomerang,
Professionals also want to believe that they can prescribe a solution for any problem they find. When i was in the army, we had a boy in our hospital who was on a suicide watch because his whore in the ville had thrown him over. One of the nurses used go sit with him to talk to him about it, in an attempt to get him to develop a sense of proportion--to realize that this was not the reality of his life, and that when he got back to "the world," he'd understand better what was important in his life, and what was not.

However, he was prescribed thorazine, on the assumption that he was suffering a temporary and violent, but mild psychosis. Basically, he was so stoned while he was with us that he took no more steps to commit suicide. This was in 1970--i can't say if the same diagnosis would be used today. He was discharged on Christmas Eve, climbed a hill by his base on Christmas day, put an M16 in his mouth and scattered his head over the hillside. As he had been discharged, no comment was added to his record, and his remains were forwarded to graves registration.

This is, of course, an extreme example. But his practitioner had described thorazine as "psychiatric glue," and was content that prescribing the course of medication would solve all of his problems. He had no comment when informed the boy had killed himself, and as it was the army, none of us were in a position to press the point.

I think that far too many practitioners see meds as the way to solve problems, and in my unexpert opinion, they are prescribed for children far too casually and far too often.
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 12:24 pm
@boomerang,
I am very much aware of the fact that many parents want a quick fix for their children. Sometimes I wonder why they had them in the first place if they won't take the time to deal with their childrens' emotional problems.

I have always stressed with Jane that it is perfectly all right to feel sorrow, anger and all the other emotions that are much more desirable. In order to feel/appreciate contentment, happiness you also have to feel the "negative" emotions. Feeling blue for a day or even longer is not the world,
it teaches us all to cope with emotional distress. There is no constant happy feeling and frankly, who wants that in the first place.

Unless there is a true, fundamental and diagnosed problem with a child or an adult, I'd be more than reluctant to have them take psycho drugs.

You are right, ADD in many cases is misdiagnosed. Some kids are very impulsive, cannot control their emotions yet and might have food allergies that trigger hyperactivity. ADD seems so passè these days though, where all of a sudden bi-polar diagnoses in children have skyrocketed.
Quote:
The study found that 20,000 minors were treated for bipolar disorder in 1994, and 800,000 nine years later.

http://www.newser.com/story/6880/number-of-bipolar-kids-skyrockets.html
roger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 12:29 pm
@boomerang,
Happy to hear this year's teacher is paying attention.
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 12:49 pm
@CalamityJane,
Just read that sleep issues are also often an underlying cause of ADD-labeled behavior -- then the drugs for ADD make the sleep issues even worse, and on it goes.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/attention-problems-may-be-sleep-related/

Roger, yes, I agree!
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 01:49 pm
@sozobe,
That's interesting!
I am glad that before a kid is diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, they're looking
into other possible problems first and sleep deprivation due to whatever underlying circumstances is already a step in the right direction.

Coincidentally, our Children's Hospital has a big sleep study center for kids
with great accommodations for the little ones and mommy. We only had an EEG done there once, but I was impressed with the facility per se.
DrewDad
 
  3  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 02:12 pm
@CalamityJane,
My problem is that I can debate either side of this issue....

But, in the end, I land, cautiously, on the side that says it's OK to prescribe this stuff.

Nobody would think twice about taking medicine to moderate physical pain, especially if it's above a certain threshold.

I don't think folks should run to the medicine cabinet every time their feelings are hurt, but I also don't want someone to forgo medication and then end up suicidal.

There's definitely a balance that needs to be maintained, just the way people need to be careful about becoming addicted to painkillers.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 02:21 pm
@DrewDad,
Well, you might debate either side, but how do you feel as a father? Would
you be so willing to have your daughter/son take psycho drugs?

It's one thing to take pain killers and the pain goes away, but psycho drugs
are mind/personality altering and you just cannot take one pill and stop. On the contrary, the weening off process is long and difficult.

Why not address issues from a therapeutical point of view and try psychological therapy first without medication?
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 02:24 pm
@Setanta,
Oh jeez. That's tragic. I think it goes directly to the doctor quoted in the story I posted -- about how our emotions should be guides, not symptoms.

One of the things mentioned in one of the articles I read on this topic is that very often talk therapy is being replaced by 15 minute "med checks". That can't be good.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 02:30 pm
@CalamityJane,
I was reading somewhere that kids who were treated for depression were much more likely to be diagnosed with bi-polar disorder later in life.

For a kid (or anyone, really) to be prescribed drugs there has to be a diagnosis. Where I get confused is trying to understand how they diagnose such a young person, especially with serious problems like bi-polar disorder.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 02:35 pm
@roger,
We are so lucky this year. His teacher is excellent. I adore her.

We also got lucky with the school's new principal who, I think, has gone to bat for Mo a time or two. She's in the middle of adopting internationally and has had to take parenting classes where a lot of the kinds of issues Mo has are discussed in depth. We've spent some long Saturday afternoons together painting the school's hallways and talking and talking and talking. I think she's finally convinced the teachers that I'm not making this stuff up!
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 02:39 pm
@CalamityJane,
CalamityJane wrote:

Well, you might debate either side, but how do you feel as a father? Would
you be so willing to have your daughter/son take psycho drugs?

Yes, if the need were great enough.

I think I'm a long way from "nonchalance," though.

CalamityJane wrote:
It's one thing to take pain killers and the pain goes away, but psycho drugs are mind/personality altering and you just cannot take one pill and stop. On the contrary, the weening off process is long and difficult.

The prescription for pain used to be "here, bite on this strap." Our brains are immensely complex chemical machines; I suspect we'll be learning how to hack our wetware for some time, yet.




CalamityJane wrote:
Why not address issues from a therapeutical point of view and try psychological therapy first without medication?

Not everyone has this luxury. My family would probably take this approach, before resorting to medication.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 02:44 pm
@DrewDad,
Quote:
My problem is that I can debate either side of this issue....


Me too. It's a hard spot to be in.

Earlier I mentioned the 2nd grader that I know who is on anti-psychotics -- her family was likely to be destroyed by her behavior which was dangerous and violent. Medicating her was a last ditch effort but it really changed their world for the better.

I grew up with a kid who could have surely benefited from modern medication. His parents spared no expense in trying to find help but nothing made it any better. Not too long ago I Googled that kid, just out of curiosity. The only thing that came up was his rap sheet, which was long and terrible.

So yeah, absolutely there are two sides to this issue.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 02:50 pm
@sozobe,
Thanks for the link to that sleep study, soz! Very interesting!
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 03:57 pm
@boomerang,
That's great news, boomer!


DrewDad, right, I agree.

Where this gets tricky -- especially with mood sorts of issues -- is when this turns to "it's all in your head" sorts of accusations. I have little doubt that psychotropic drugs can be necessary, and can help a lot.

I think the middle ground is probably to just try various approaches (the sleep screening thing would be one example) and see what happens.

The bad part of this is that for people for whom only drugs will work, time is wasted.

The good part is that people who don't necessarily actually need drugs will be able to avoid them.
 

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