Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mental Illness In Children: Survey Reveals Adult Skepticism

Do you believe children are overdiagnosed as hyperactive?
Yes
No
  
pollcode.com free polls



New research about mental health and kids shows a skeptical public, but the study's author feels that the skepticism is unjustified:
"The results show that people believe children will be affected negatively if they receive treatment for mental health problems," says study author Bernice Pescosolido, director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, in Bloomington.
Let's see: you can't serve in the military, many job's rightfully explore the job-seeker's mental health and a person who has suffered with mental illness since childhood would likely be excluded from a job, insurance rates would be higher (those with mental health issues use all health care services more) and the list goes on and on. It is deeply disingenuous of the doctors and psychologists to imply that there are no negative side affects from seeking mental health services (and claiming so on insurance).

Also disingenuous is this statement:

Normalizing these conditions would help too, Quinn says.

"We need to view depression and ADHD like we do allergies," she says. "They are very treatable."

No, mental illness is not "very treatable". In fact, depression is very difficult to treat both in children and adults. In addition, many of the treatments have nary a study to document efficacy. There is so much unsubstantiated garbage passing as fact in the profession, that parents are often misled about treatments. (For more on this, read Destructive Trends in Mental Health--links below.)

Here are the results of the survey of 1300 American adults:

•85% of those interviewed believed that doctors overmedicate children with depression and ADHD and that drugs have long-term harm on a child's development. More than half believed that psychiatric medications "turn kids into zombies."

•40% of respondents thought children with depression would be dangerous to others; 31% believed children with ADHD would pose a danger.

•45% said rejection at school is likely if a child goes for treatment, and 43% believe that the stigma associated with seeking treatment would follow them into adulthood.

These results seem perfectly reasonable and rational to me.

Happy kids don't look for their parent's handguns, now do they? Happy kids don't commit suicide. Happy kids don't pick on other kids. Happy kids don't kill cats or otherwise torture animals. Happy kids don't self-mutilate. There are a whole host of things happy kids don't do that depressed kids do.

I don't know if the study's authors have been in a Special Ed room lately, but the behavior kids invariably are diagnosed with ADHD and on some sort of medication. In my son's class, Mr. ADHD was the one who attacked the teacher. Of course, not all hyper children are violent. And most hyper children shouldn't be on Ritalin either. The fact that 90% of all the Ritalin in the world is taken by United States children should be a cause for concern among the mental health profession like it is the vast majority of American parents. Strangely, save for a few, most give out these stimulants more freely than your corner drug dealer.

This survey just proves to me how out-of-touch the mental health profession is with the real world. Reasonable people just don't buy the professions pathologizing of normal kid behavior. Not to mention, this generation still remembers how effective a well-timed, and deserved, good whack on the rear was for reducing hyperactivity. A miracle cure. Instead, every out-of-control parent with every out-of-control child looks for medication to manage behavior.

In rare instances, there is a biophysiological reason for the problem, but my experience has been that diet changes and other life-style changes can go a long way to help most kids. Save the medication for the seriously disturbed children.

There would be more empathy for mental illness, if it didn't seem like everyone, and so many children, were categorized as mentally ill these days.







6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I could not agree with you more on this post. This has disturbed me for a long time as I watch one of my dearest friends on meds for depression,and she has her son for ADHD, ADD, etc... Her son's meds needs to be adjusted or changed every so often because the affects wear off. Hmmm!

Another friend recently challenged me on a post I did on depression when I very gently and carefully made the obeservation that so many people these days are on medication for depression. It is held near and dear to many people despite the fact that there are side affects.

Anonymous said...

The fact that 90% of all the Ritalin in the world is taken by United States children should be a cause for concern among the mental health profession like it is the vast majority of American parents. Strangely, save for a few, most give out these stimulants more freely than your corner drug dealer.

It's been going on for a long time, Doc. I remember an old Fabulous Furry Freak Bros comic where Fat Freddy impersonated a hyperactive six-year-old "for that Ritalin rush".

kman said...

Excellent post...

"We need to view depression and ADHD like we do allergies," she says. "They are very treatable."

Depression is very treatable as long as you don't require actually getting better as an end result of treatment. If you take the "happy pills" for the rest of your life then thats just part of your treatment plan.

I have a severe distrust of anyone who is compensated to work against my best interests.... stock advisers who get paid per trade, pharmaceutical companies who get much higher ROI for medications you have to take for the rest of your life, large media organizations that get paid for adding too, perpetuating and creating shocking news.

Hopefully most people can see that these groups are not looking out for their best interests but we probably all know individuals who don't understand this.

carol said...

The advent of antidepressants made life easier for a lot of therapists. I was told, yeah we can have talk therapy and all that but it would really help if you take the Zoloft too...I felt cheated. So I decide I was okay and walked.

And are we conflating ADHD, depression and "mental illness"? That seems to go too far. But if it gets grant money, go for it (I guess).

MaxedOutMama said...

You certainly cover a lot of territory!!

I think we spend less time with children helping them to learn to deal with their individual temperaments (to become adults), and a whole lot more on medication.

I have two brothers who were clinically hyperactive. Both are huge successes in life. Neither were more than normally disruptive in school. All that intensity and focus can often be redirected into achievement.

I am not going to claim that no child needs medication and therapy. But many of those I see getting medication look like kids who need more physical activity and more adult attention and discipline.

Melissa Clouthier said...

You certainly cover a lot of territory!!

I know, it's disturbing. You should see my bookshelves--name the topic! Ha!

Just to be clear, I'm not saying the medication (specifically Ritalin) should never be used. It should just be used rarely and judiciously.