As I know all too well, the sad truth is that exclusively behavioral treatment for children with mental health issues does not happen nearly as often anymore. While I do not wish to discredit pharmocology, I want to remind everyone that caution is so important, especially with children when their brains and bodies are still forming. And yes, I wish we could allow for first trying behavioral and/or family interventions without drugs.
When it comes to treating children with mental, behavioral and/or emotional problems, the cards seem stacked against giving the non-pharmaceutical way a chance, some U.S. specialists say.
“Managed-care organizations are less likely to pay for psychotherapy and family interventions,” said Peter Conrad, professor of sociology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
The development of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising has heightened the public’s proclivity to seek or accept drug solutions to an array of human problems and lowered its tolerance of even mild symptoms and minor troubles, analysts said.
“All signs point to this trend continuing well into the 21st century,” Conrad wrote in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Among those signs, a study published in Psychiatric Services showed one of every 10 office visits to a primary-care or specialty provider made by boys between the ages of 14 and 18 resulted in an order for psychotropic medication — even though up to a quarter of the time no diagnosis of a mental illness was recorded. [full text]
The oft-quoted H.L. Mencken words seem appropriate to remember: for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. For every child, there is a drug that may be able to help them in the short term, or make them less hyper or cranky or pain-in-the-buttish, but these drugs brings into their lives a host of other questions and potential problems. In some situations, the best alternative may be medication, but in many situations, other ways to solve the problem are getting short shrift.