Although it is simple to write a prescription to treat a mental health condition, certain recent research and a rising chorus of voices worried about the explosive growth in the prescription of psychotropic medicines suggest that this may not always be the safest or most successful course for patients, especially for children.
Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year found that individuals frequently obtain psychotropic medicines today without first being assessed by a mental health expert. Many Americans see their primary-care doctors and may leave with a prescription for an antidepressant or other medicines without being aware of alternate evidence-based therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy that could work better for them without the danger of side effects.
In this country, antipsychotic drugs including Risperdal, Abilify, Zyprexa, and Seroquel are among the most often prescribed (and priciest) drugs. But according to Olfson's research, more than half of young people received these prescriptions without a mental condition being recognized. These drugs were given considerably more frequently for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, disruptive behavior disorders, and aggressiveness among young people with a diagnosis of mental illness than for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or Tourette's syndrome. Despite the fact that some medical professionals may be reluctant to identify a psychotic disorder due to worries about stigma, these findings are simply too overwhelming for that to be a valid explanation for what is occurring.
It's not that our physicians or prescribing nurses are subpar. The issue is that our healthcare system lacks integrated behavioral health services in primary care settings, such as doctors who can screen patients for mental health issues and provide on-site therapy. We also lack a system of specialized mental health care that is open to the public and appropriately serves the needs of children, adults, and families. Additionally, we lack sufficient mental health resources to assist adolescents where they are most likely to receive care, especially in school health clinics. As a result, there is intense pressure to manage behaviors through quick fixes like pharmaceuticals, which are being prescribed in increasing numbers.
How can we prevent overprescription of drugs to our children?
Many kids receive excessive medication prescriptions every year for a variety of ailments, including mental illness and other physical disorders. Despite the FDA's efforts to combat prescription medications, especially narcotics, the issue is still not fully resolved. Despite being legal, these medicines can have long-lasting effects that are not always apparent. In order to stop the problem in its tracks, parents and guardians must be vigilant in studying both the ailments that children are being diagnosed with and the adverse effects of the medications that are being prescribed.
1. Seek second opinions on diagnoses. The proper amount of testing is frequently skipped when making diagnoses like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Many children just look hyperactive because they are very energetic. Premature medication administration might cause consequences, including Adderall withdrawal symptoms that can range from moderate to severe. This energy tends to diminish as people age. Some side effects persist for years after the medicine has been stopped, which is seriously detrimental to the physical and mental development of a kid. Before beginning any ADD and ADHD drugs, it's usually a good idea to obtain a second opinion after receiving the original diagnosis from a different doctor. It is also recommended that preschoolers with ADHD initially receive behavioral therapies, such as parent education in behavior control strategies. Only moderate to severe symptoms may be treated with medications if those other treatments are unsuccessful.
2. Observe your child's reactions. When your child takes a new medicine, one of the most crucial things to do is to keep an eye out for any symptoms. Each one has a list of potential side effects, along with a note on which ones are severe and need immediate medical attention. Keep track of your child's drug effects, both positive and negative. It's a positive indication that the medications are correcting the imbalanced brain chemistry if, for instance, their conduct or academic performance improves. However, these are indications that they require either a dosage change or to be taken off the medicine completely if they become sluggish, sad, or start acting out. This brings up the following point.
3. Don't stop using drugs without medical assistance. The worst thing you can do if you're not satisfied with the medicines your child is taking is to discontinue giving them without first talking to their doctor. Some of them are so potent that they might lead to withdrawal symptoms or even severe medical issues that can necessitate hospitalization. Inform the doctor about your worries in a conversation. A smaller dose may occasionally be sufficient to completely remove the negative effects. In some cases, you might need to stop taking the drug, but it's important to wean yourself off over a few weeks. In this situation, the doctor will specify how to proceed and the dosages to use in order to avoid the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting cold turkey.
4. Try other treatment approaches before turning to medication. Parents are advised to first try behavioral treatment if at all possible before turning to medications. This is due to the fact that we are unsure of how long-term use of psychiatric medications will affect young children's developing bodies and brains. What we do know is that behavioral therapy can improve a child with mental health challenges' functioning at home, at school, and with friends over the long run. The safest form of treatment for ADHD in kids under the age of six is behavioral therapy, which should be utilized before ADHD medication in those kids who have been diagnosed with the condition.
5. Usage of the integrative approach in treating mental health conditions. Since lifestyle choices like food, exercise, and stress are frequently an underlying cause of illness, they are included in the concept of integrative mental health. It combines traditional and alternative methods to treat problems in the most efficient way possible. Integrative mental health makes an effort not to slavishly follow one paradigm over another. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), psychotherapy, nutrition, and bodywork are a few of the methods that are combined in the field of integrative mental health.
Integrative mental health proponents contend that several elements affect mental health. In essence, instead of using a one-size-fits-all strategy, each person is to experience long-lasting and meaningful recovery in varied ways. Because societal and cultural variables are at play, we cannot only concentrate on pharmaceuticals. Some people could be overlooking how an unhealthy lifestyle is influencing their mood if they simply seek psychotherapy as a means of easing their misery. But if you solely focus on nutrition and exercise and ignore how trauma and early events affect you today, you might not experience the type of growth and well-being you desire. Since our well-being is made up of many interlocking aspects, this approach—as its proponents argue—should be more effective than traditional techniques, such as medications.
Seek help now
Solstice Pacific is aware of both the dangers and potential advantages that medicines may have for children's developing bodies and brains. It's critical to understand that using medications is not the only way to manage a condition. Especially with children, it’s essential to explore various treatment approaches outside of pharmaceuticals. If you’re in need of assistance regarding your children’s wellbeing, Solstice Pacific is here for you. You may contact us through our website or via phone call at (949) 200-7929. To help us get to know you better, you may complete this quick assessment and verify your insurance.