Monday, April 11, 2011

Mental illness and children

A great image showing the extent of psychoactive drug prescribing in the US. While there are many
interesting explanations for such rampant pharmaco-terrorism, this post has another purpose.

A recent story caught my eye, in fact it was so striking it kidnapped my brain. Headlined, "Is that Thorazine in the babies bottle?", it discussed the relentless rise in diagnosing and treating psychiatric illness in chilren and infants. According to the story, 500,000 children in the US are prescribed anti-psychotics! When I went looking for data about the incidence/ prevalence of psychiatric illness in children, the numbers are mind boggling. According to, in 2008 8% of children aged 12-17 experienced a major depressive episode. Of course, some may question this data, but it does appear that the incidence of major psychiatric illness, especially depression is rising across the Western world, and it has been suggested that the major contributor to this increase is rising economic and social inequality. If this is the case, medicating children from a very young age is not the solution, and is really only addressing the symptoms of a societal problem. For a more detailed discussion, read The Spirit Level . This is a magnificent book, likely to be seen in 50 years as the seminal public health work.

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