Would it concern you to know that nearly one out of 100 teenage boys is on anti-psychotic medication and one out of 150 girls is on anti-psychotics? From the Wall Street Journal:
So, 70% of teens taking an anti-psychotic do so because they feel sad or they act bad--not because the have a concrete diagnosis. And kids on sleeping pills? Are these doctors demanding that the kids knock off the Red Bulls, or just as likely, the Ritalin or other amphetamines so popular these days?
Medco found prevalence of kids taking antipsychotic drugs, once called major tranquilizers, roughly doubled, with about 1.2% of boys and 0.75% of girls taking them in 2006.
Widely used antipsychotic drugs -- including Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel and Clozaril -- are approved for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults, but not children.
Dr. Insel said the drugs often are prescribed for kids for disruptive behavior and other unapproved uses, particularly to children previously on antidepressants and ADHD drugs.
A federal survey of doctors' office practices estimated a sixfold jump from 1993 to 2002 in patients aged 20 or younger prescribed antipsychotic drugs, to 1.224 million. It found 38% of those prescriptions were for disruptive behavior such as ADHD, 32% were for mood disorders including depression, 17% were for developmental disorders such as mental retardation and autism, and 14% were for psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
Meanwhile, Medco found use of prescription sleeping pills nearly doubled, to about 0.3% of boys and 0.44% of girls.
"The fact that these kids have to get a prescription pill to go to sleep at night is amazing," said Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical official, adding parents should try slowing kids down at night with curfews on caffeine and computer use, for example.
He said Medco's numbers reflect drug use among adolescents covered by private or government insurance, but in general children in the Medicaid program use more prescription medications and those with no insurance take significantly less.
Now, for the Medicaid users. There are those who would say that the uninsured are under medicated--you know Risperdal deficiencies that are so prevalent these days, but it's funny how people who don't have insurance don't take the meds. I'm also curious about standard insurance med usage rates. Are Medicaid users, are poor people, more likely to be mentally ill or is the fall-back position of stressed parents and inflexible school bureaucracies, medication? Whether there is discrimination or whether human nature looks for the easy way out, these numbers are profoundly disturbing.