Lately, I’ve been running a bit behind with my normal blogging efforts.
I could probably blame it on my ADHD and OCD tendencies that my family and friends like to point out regularly. These cognitive challenges often either leave me distracted from my far too many “very important” projects that too easily redirect my fleeting attention span, or too focused on neurotically overanalyzing and proofing the minutia of my life, research and writings. But to place blame elsewhere than just the normal challenges of a busy schedule would be unfair.
Honestly, between the end of the semester demands as a professor, a busy consulting and conference travel month, and working on Project For the Kids (a series of one day seminars to be offered in major metro areas nationwide starting in August), I’ve been tied up physically and mentally. Throw in shuttling my two kids to end of the year school functions, Taekwondo, and endless soccer practices, matches and out of town tournaments, the end result is not much time to write down and share my thoughts via the world wide web.
But now that final grades are turned in and I have found some time to sit at my computer, “if you wouldn’t mind” I wanted to first get caught up on a few overdue Thank You notes. Yes, this short blog is inspired by the always entertaining and witty Thank You Notes ritual Jimmy Fallon does on the Tonight Show every week. It’s intended to be funny, but of course not as funny as Jimmy Fallon; he’s the best. People say I am funny, and have a great face for radio, but come on… how funny can you be when you talk about mental health and drugging kids?
Now, I realize for some who don’t yet agree with my stance that we should stop drugging kids for acting like kids, trying to input a little humor into such efforts might seem slightly offensive, This is not my intention, and I do sincerely apologize if my tone and candor strike you as “flippant” as one reader recently shared. After giving countless talks on the subjects of child development, mental health and pharmaceutical intervention, however, I have come to the conclusion that if you can’t laugh a little and make light of the struggles we face as parents or adults working with kids stumbling through the natural development process, we might start displaying signs of a mental disorder or six ourselves.
So click here for the Thank You Notes piano theme music, and read along as I acknowledge with a moderate dose of sarcasm some of the biggest contributors to the growing trend to medicate more than 8.3 million kids in the USA.
Cue the music…
Thank you, federal education policy, for pushing the early diagnosis of mental disorders upon millions of normal kids, allowing physical education, art and music to be cut from the curriculum, and giving children in third world nations something to feel better about.
Thank you, American Psychiatric Association, prophets of all things non-seeable and all-mighty scribes of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (otherwise known as the DSM-5, Psychiatrist’s Bible or the Great Big Book of Everything Wrong with Us), for “creating” a simplistic ADHD diagnosis which allows “experts” to use 18 common childhood behaviors as symptoms of a brain disease. Behaviors a billion children worldwide display every day.
You, the Affluent Drug Happy Doctors, have truly discovered the All Do Have Disorder. Congratulations!
Thank you, Shire Pharmaceuticals (makers of Adderall and Vyvanse) and other manufacturers of ADHD drugs, for creating and sponsoring endless websites such as www.adhdandyou.com or www.adhd-institute.com that appear to be nonbiased places to learn more about the behaviors associated with ADHD, and yet somehow scare every visitor into thinking their whole family has a serious genetically-based mental disease and must be put on drugs.
You’re doing Yeoman’s work.
Thank you, National Institute of Mental Health, for funding 18 doctors, many of whom are paid regularly by the pharmaceutical industry to speak publicly about the “benefits” of ADHD drugs, to do a “non-bias” study on the effectiveness of ADHD drugs.
Sorry they only discovered that despite a 41% increase in the average daily dose of the drugs, kids on the ADHD drugs fared no better than their non-medicated counterparts. Or that the drugs’ effectiveness began to lose its “impact” after 14 months and the drug- treatment advantage was completely gone after 3 years of use.
Thank you, FDA, for requiring full disclosure of all the dangerous and life threatening side effects that kids can experience when put on pharmaceutical drugs, but yet still endorse the product as safe for kids to use long-term in the USA.
Your process of allowing drug companies to provide you with a few non-peer reviewed, in-house research “experiments” that study kids for four weeks as evidence of their long-term effectiveness and safety, and then approving the drugs for purchase within months or even weeks, is truly a rigorous and efficient process essential to protecting our future citizens. You’re the best!
Thank you, Abilify, the additional depression drug to take if your current depression drug is not working, for sharing the news that your side effects include… dizziness, weakness, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach (as if vomiting wasn’t a sign of this already), tiredness, excess saliva or drooling, choking or trouble swallowing, blurred vision, headache, anxiety, weight gain, drowsiness, sleep problems (insomnia), constipation, suicidal thoughts and oh by the way more serious depression symptoms.
It’s good to know there is different drug to take for depression in addition to one’s current ineffective SSRI depression drug, since clinical trials submitted to the FDA in 2008 determined that a placebo (which comes with no side effects typically) works as effectively as the leading SSRIs. Also thanks for not pointing out in your commercials that most people with mild to moderate depression naturally heal in about four months without the use of depression drugs. You’re a lifesaver!
Thank you, spell check, for thinking “Abilify” is a misspelling for “ability.”
Strange how a drug that comes with so many side effects that can disable you could be confused with ability. Isn’t it ironic; don’t you think?
Thank you, American Psychiatric Association, for adding the new Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder to the DSM-5. Thus providing a broader net to label more kids with a mental disorder who did not quite fit the criteria for a childhood bipolar disorder diagnosis, and making it easier to diagnose an average child’s persistent irritability and frequent episodes of behavior subjectively viewed as extreme or out-of-control as signs of a brain disease.
As if the nearly 400 other mental disorders you have created over the years did not already provide enough required billing codes to use as a means to get insurance companies to pay for services. Your diligence and attention to detail is commendable.
Thank you, FDA, for also approving lithium to be used on children 12-17 years of age diagnosed bipolar based on a few non-conclusive research studies that found weak to no statistically significant positive results supporting such use.
The fact that these studies only tested Lithium on approximately 86 children shows us that you must know what you are doing when it comes to generalizing the outcomes experienced by adults using this truly mind-altering drug to how it might affect millions of kids.
Thank you, mental health “experts” and pediatricians, for ignoring decades of child development research showing how infants and toddlers commonly experience anxiety, and instead using such signs of worry and fretfulness to justify labeling more than 500,000 kids three or younger with an anxiety disorder and putting them on anti-anxiety drugs (e.g., Xanax).
I’m assuming you also have a recommendation for an insomnia medication, since one can only imagine how hard it might be for your conscience to be silenced enough for you to sleep at night.
Most of all, and I am not being sarcastic, Thank you, Drs. Robert Foltz, Michael Gilbert, Gretchen LeFever Watson and Marilyn Wedge, as well as Author Robert Whitaker and our many other speakers, many of whom have had their world turned upside down by the pharmaceutical freight train drugging children, for joining me on the upcoming Project #ForTheKids seminar tour starting in August 2015.
As we go to from city to city sharing a compassionate and research filled “drugs are not the answer” meta-message with our guests, I am confident your bravery, professional ethics, knowledge and experience will help many concerned parents, adults and practitioners more deeply consider the alternatives available to help kids get through this thing called childhood.
If you take the time to read or learn about my most recent book on debunking ADHD, you will understand I agree that many kids truly have serious mental health or behavioral issues and can benefit from professional help. But as my books, videos and blogs also share, for the other six or seven million or so kids out there labeled with a mental disorder and being drugged, I think there are several common child development challenges that can more accurately explain such concerning behavior. Also, there are some great parent training programs available (e.g., Love and Logic) that can help a family overcome such challenges without the need for “drug therapy.” And as the Thank You notes I just shared were intended to illuminate, the real reasons most kids are being drugged for a supposed mental disorder come from the actions taken by those in the pharmaceutical, insurance and medical industries driving this billion-dollar medication movement.
After years of closely following this trend to drug millions of kids, and reading the research that explains the whole story related to the supposed benefits of giving pharmaceuticals to children, I decided to step into this unfortunately sometimes heated debate. I entered because I care about kids, and the discussion needs to be brought to the forefront. I continue to write because kids need more adults to be their surrogate voice in a discussion they often have no say in. This is why I hope you share this blog today with your circle of friends and colleagues. Our kids deserve nothing less than to have adults begin to discuss this taboo subject more openly.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.