Parents want to do everything possible to help their struggling teens, and sometimes medical professionals recommend medicines to help with emotional, behavioral or physical conditions that may be the root of a troubled teen’s problems.
Treating kids with drugs when appropriate is on the rise, and early intervention can make a big difference in the teen’s life, but many parents and professionals are worried that too many patients don’t actually require medication, often seen as a quick fix. Are teens today way over-medicated? There’s no easy answer to this important question.
Medications and Mental Health
the past several decades has brought a much greater understanding of mental health issues and how to treat them. Parents, teachers and doctors are more perceptive to the signs and signals required for early diagnosis and new developments in therapy and medicine have ushered in a whole new level of treatment.
Conditions like ADD, ADHD, anxiety, depression and bipolar, just to name a few, are no longer as debilitating as they once were, thanks to advancements in the field of mental health.
Fears of Overmedication
Thanks to these advancements in diagnosis and treatment, more children and teens than ever before are currently on some kind of medication. This fact has some people worried that caregivers today are perhaps too eager to seek out medical solutions to behavior problems.
In other words, parents, teachers and even doctors who are looking for ways to control a child or teen’s bad, negative or disruptive behavior may turn immediately to a prescription drug rather than pursue other non-medication solutions. Many people fear that too many children and teens are on medication when perhaps they don’t need to be. With long-term effects virtually unknown, an entire generation of children and teens may be at risk for health issues unrelated to their current conditions.
When Drugs Are Needed
There’s no doubt that some prescription drugs work wonders for children and teens who rely on them to keep their body chemistry balanced and help them cope better as they navigate life. Whereas even a few decades ago, such teens would struggle through life without medication, today they are happy, productive members of society. When drugs are used in conjunction with behavior therapy, there seems to be a greater success rate for recovery and stability.
The problem is that as more people are used to the idea of children and teens on drugs, and its a much easier solution than intensive behavior therapy, family therapy and similar non-medicated options, many worry that children and teens are being misdiagnosed and are being given medicines they don’t actually need. Several studies show that better parenting, diet, exercise and more can make huge contributions toward behavior and recovery as well.
Case Study on ADHD
There are no better examples on overmedicating children and teens than ADHD. The number of cases diagnosed in children has risen dramatically in the past decade. Many say that it’s because parents, teachers and doctors are better at recognizing and diagnosing it, while others say that typical difficult childhood or teen behaviors are being labeled as ADHD rather than the result of other factors like poor parenting, and so forth.
Differences in the number of ADHD cases makes it more clear from state to state and even country to country. In a Parenting.com article, a study is cited that shows just over 5 percent of children in Nevada have been diagnosed with ADHD, while a whopping 18.7 percent of ADHD cases in children appear in Kentucky. Another contrast shows that the United States has an average of 11 percent of ADHD cases in children, but in France the number is .5 percent.
These large gaps are causing some experts who worry about whether or not American kids are being overmedicated seek to show that several factors are at play–parents looking for fast solutions, medication becoming more normal for people’s problems, different parenting styles, the prominence of drug companies and much more.
In order to avoid overmedicating children and teens, it’s important for parents to work closely with doctors and therapists to ensure that all options for helping struggling children and teens are being addressed. Other options for treating common teen issues include therapeutic boarding schools, behavior modification therapy, and more.
Instead of reaching for a fast remedy that medications may or may not provide, parents, teachers, doctors and even the patients themselves need to get more educated on all treatment options so the patient has the best chance for overall health and happiness.