Kids and Meds- “We’ve Got Issues”
February 25, 2010 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Mental Health, Parenting, Pressure on Children, The Environment, Therapy · Permalink

9781594487545

Judith Warner, author and columnist on parenting issues, has just published We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents In The Age of Medication. She began her project with the commonly held mindset that children are over-medicated through a collusion between parents, who want their childrens’ behavior to change, and psychiatrists, who are more than happy to whip out the prescription pad.  What Warner discovered, and what our experience at Soho Parenting has been over the last two decades, is actually the opposite. Parents go through excruciating conflict, ambivalence and worry about using medication with their children who are suffering from a psychiatric or neuro- biological illness.

Contrary to the “over-medication” hype, parents often have a hard time accepting that their child’s symptoms are an indication of a serious departure from typical development. When a children have depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, or autistic spectrum disorder it is unbearably painful to accept. Decisions to use medicine to treat, or ameliorate symptoms is a huge choice.  The known risk of leaving these problems untreated sometimes feels less risky than taking medicine. This is often the wrong call.

In our clinical practice, we have seen a rise of developmental delays as well as a rise in mood disorders, behavioral and emotional struggles in children. The causes are most likely multi-determined. The impact of toxins in our food supply and environment, the unhealthy pressured culture our children must conform to, and the marriage of genetics in parents who also may struggle with significant levels of anxiety and depression all lead to more vulnerable systems in our children.

Having this awareness allows parents to make healthier choices about their lifestyles and practice preventative care.  Acknowledgment that your child struggles with mood or reactivity issues is necessary to fight stigma, advocate for kids and to counter the feelings of failure that parents and children alike experience if these issues arise. Treating such childhood problems with effective therapies, and yes, many times, with medicine, can be the difference between utter suffering and a calmer, more productive and functional experience for affected children, their siblings and parents.

In almost 25 years we have met only one family that seemed blithe about using medicine to maintain a child’s enrollment in a high pressured and “prestigious” school.  All other parents have approached the diagnosis, starting therapy, and possibly medicating their children as a truly serious decision–usually leaning toward under-treating. The stories of children being helped by a combination of therapy and medicine abound. The relief and hopefulness is always tempered by worry over the long-term effects, but children who need medicine and receive the correct medicine are freed from a dark place. Kudos to Warner for her open-minded research, her hard work on the book, and her contribution to parents –to help them make the best choices for their children and their families.

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Comments

  1. Julia
    February 25th, 2010 | 1:00 pm

    thank you thank you thank you for this post and thank you to Judith Warner for writing about this! I cannot begin to express how difficult it was for my husband and I to use meds with our son but are so grateful for how much it has helped!

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