When seven-year-old foster child Gabriel Myers hanged himself by a shower cord last year, all eyes turned to psychiatrist Dr. Sohail Punjwani, who had been treating the boy. The doctor had prescribed several powerful mental health drugs to Myers – some of which aren’t approved for use by kids, and had been linked to suicide among children.
Every day, more and more youngsters around the country are being diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety, autism, and other emotional disorders. Some parents and doctors jump to the conclusion that every hyper kid has ADHD, or that every sad child suffers from depression and needs medication.
Somewhat surprising is the fact that the FDA has officially approved only one antidepressant drug for the treatment of depression in children – fluoxetine (Prozac).
“We just don’t have enough information to draw the conclusion that they’re safe and effective for children,” says Thomas Laughren, who directs the FDA team that approves psychiatric medications.
Yet antidepressants including Paxil and Zoloft are prescribed to kids every day across the U.S. How? Doctors can prescribe these drugs as “off label” if they haven’t yet been approved.
Are we really a Ritalin Nation? Some evidence exists that children are actually under-diagnosed. Author Judith Warner set out to write a book about overmedicated kids, and instead found out that many experts believe children are under-diagnosed and under-treated.
What do you think? Are our kids overmedicated? Should they be prescribed antidepressants or anti-psychotic meds? Let us know below.