Category Archives: Anxiety & Depression

Children and Medications for Mental Health Issues – A Last Resort

Children hiking through the woods
Medicating children for mental health conditions, ADD/ADHD, and other learning disabilities should be an absolute last resort. IMO parents should go to the ends of the earth before taking a chance on medication.

Of course, I’m not a parent so by some people’s reasoning I don’t have a vote in the ongoing debate about children and medication for mental health issues, ADD/ADHD, and other conditions.

Now are children being over-medicated? I haven’t studied the studies, but anecdotally I would bet children are because I believe adults are over medicated. It seems to me that if doctors of all stripes are too quick to prescribe meditations for adults then they are likely – albeit less – to do the same for children.

The reason I am so concerned about possible over-prescribing is that we don’t know enough about the medications and how they impact the brain of an adult. It’s not difficult to find articles discussing hypothesis for why a medication may work and even the documentation that come with many medications indicates that scientists aren’t quite sure why a medication does or doesn’t work on adults.

If we truly understood how they worked, then don’t you think we would have better medications so many years after the Prozac era? So why would we give unproven, less-than-understood medications to developing children unless it was as an absolutely last resort?

Assuming I’m correct, what do we do about it?  Let’s see, the government could spend millions of dollars on another public education campaign or maybe the medical profession should do its job and set strict criteria – albeit voluntary – for the prescription of certain medications.

Among my recommendations:

  • Pediatricians and general practitioners would be restricted in their prescribing habits – perhaps even barred from prescribing mental health medications for children.
  • Psychological examination and testing would be a mandatory pre-requisite for the receipt of such medications. Oh, and screening by school staff is not sufficient, neither is screening by a social worker. I would require it be conducted by a psychiatrist or psychologist.
  • Counseling, again by a psychiatrist or psychologist, would be required before a child could be prescribed. At a minimum I would suggest three 1-hour sessions and preferably six sessions.

There is an obvious downside to the above restrictions that I will readily admit: it will almost certainly prevent some children who truly need the medications from getting them due to a lack of parental resources such as time and money.  Furthermore, I have no doubt some specialists would become “pill mills” for getting prescriptions without going through the necessary steps.

So the recommendations aren’t a perfect solution. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the above recommendations should reduce the amount of over-prescribing (protecting many children) as well as combat any suggestion that we really know the long-term impact of such prescribing on a child’s health.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below – but be respectful as hot-button issues often bring out the worst in people.

Image Credit: vastateparksstaff via the Creative Commons, inclusion of their photo should not be considered an endorsement of this post or this site’s content.

Laughing at Ourselves and Our Conditions with the Peanuts Gang

Life with chronic anxiety is tough.  Always living on that edge can be exhausting so its great when we can reach out and enjoy a moment of disaction or joy.  That includes laughing at ourselves and our condition.

Linus complicating life for Lucy who just wants to color

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Is the Peanuts cartoon familiar? Much like attorneys, those of us with chronic anxiety often complicate life to a ridiculous degree and rob ourselves of simple pleasures in the process or make a bad situation worse. It’s a fact of life, but when given the chance it’s okay to enjoy a moment of mirth by laughing at our condition.

 

 

Batman and J.R. Ewing Battle a Common Enemy

sketch of batman with bats flying out of his cape
Iconic figures, Batman and J.R. Ewing, battled a common foe in theaters and on televisions across the world this summer – depression.  The portrayal of their battles provides a fantastic glimpse into the life of someone faced with severe and prolonged depression.

In Bruce Wayne, we see a tragic hero in The Dark Knight Rises who not only lost the love of his life in Rachel Dawes, but also his reason for living – fighting crime as The Dark Knight – taken away.  That double-whammy combined with the traumas of childhood plunged him into years of depression that left him isolated, stripped of all joys in life, and even more susceptible to the physical wear and tear his bodied suffered in battling Scarecrow, Joker, and the League of Shadows.

Likewise, in the revival of Dallas this summer we saw the unthinkable in early episodes: J.R. Ewing withering away alone, powerless, and not even a shadow of the former hard-driving, take-on-the-world SOB that we came to love and hate in the 80s.  For J.R. it wasn’t the loss of romantic love that drove him into depression but loss of Ewing Oil, South Fork, and the power that came from the fear he instilled in his enemies.

Photographic sketcing of JR EwingIn both cases, loss triggered their descent into depression but it was ultimately the lack of purpose and the loss of hope that kept them captive to it for years.  This despite vast resources that could have helped them get the best of treatments that medicine has to offer.

Nevertheless, both emerged from the shadows of depression and it was because they found renewed purpose in life.  For Batman it was the absolute necessity to save Gotham from the villain Bane and for J.R. it was the hope of rebuilding Ewing Oil with the discovery of vast deposits under South Fork, not to mention the opportunity to “teach” his son the rough and tumble oil business.

There is no silver bullet for dealing with depression but the lesson of their stories is obvious: finding a purpose (or a compelling goal) that speaks to the core of one’s self can be an invaluable key to winning the battle with depression.

Fantastic Artwork Courtesy of:

The Dark Knight Rises by The Fresh Doodle

J.R. Ewing by Sbsiceland