Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pop a Pill to your Preteen?

I am a long time fan of Judith Warner, the New York Times guest columnist who wrote about children, parenting, mental health, and psychiatry even though I have no children, am not a parent, avoid thinking too much about mental health, and don't know anything about psychiatry. She is a very good, and quite thoughtful writer, and set out to write a book about the psychiatric over-medication of children. In the course of doing the research for this book, she found that in fact children taking psychiatric drugs seemed to benefit dramatically from them, parents and psychiatrists are wary, not gung-ho, about medicating children, and that concerns about over-medication might be a class and culture specific way of articulating worries about today's culture and 'social environment.'

I would tend to sympathize more with the pre-research Judith Warner. Although I know neither data nor stories about over-medicated children, I have a vague and unsubstantiated feeling that children, especially young boys, are too often diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, and medicated accordingly.

Perhaps in my head this was related to the fact that I do know many people, specifically African Americans growing up in the projects, who were diagnosed with the vague 'behavioral or emotional disorders,' and not given any treatment, but sent to special ed for the rest of their educational lives. On further thought, these issues are, and should be thought of as entirely separate. I don't really have any more well reasoned thoughts on the matter though, but this seems like an important thing for someone other than a journalist (or a blogger) to figure out.