Diet & LifestyleHealth

Overmedicated Children: One Million Kids Under Age 6 On Psychiatric Drugs in America

Image via Brandon Warren / Flickr

In the United States, there are currently one million children under the age of six on psychiatric drugs. Given the horrifying side effects and ineffectiveness of a good number of these harmful drugs, this number is particularly disturbing.

Mental health watchdog group Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has drawn attention to the fact that over one million children younger than six in America are currently taking psychiatric drugs. It provides a haunting reminder that we have overmedicated children, an effort directly fuelled by no other than Big Pharma.

History Repeated

Dr. Linda Lagemann, Commissioner of CCHR, describes how history repeats itself – “Psychiatry has a long history of brutal experiments. Lobotomies were marketed as a miracle cure in their day. JFK’s sister was lobotomized and could only speak three words after her institutionalization. In the 1940s and 50s, lobotomies were performed on some 40,000 patients in the United States. Today we look back and can’t believe we allowed that happen. It is vital that the legal profession take the initiative in protecting American children and families from experimental and highly dangerous practices (1).”

Gary Thompson, human rights advocate and author, pointed out that these drugs “are not the solution. They take away people’s sense of self and independence. Helping people gain a sense of self, a sense of purpose and a sense of direction with their lives will address the root causes of depression and other labeled mental health issues.” This is especially true for children, who are finding their way through life.

Overmedicated Children

While around half of the children given psychiatric drugs are four to five years old, over 274,804 of them are younger than a year old. Yes, babies are being given psychiatric drugs. For toddlers aged two to three, 370,778 kids are given psychiatric drugs.

The situation only gets worse when you look at kids older than 6 years old. According to data from IMS Health, 4,130,340 kids aged 6 to 12 are taking some type of psychiatric drug.

While most people will assume that these statistics make up a majority of kids given ADHD drugs (seeing as how common it is), they are sadly mistaken. ADHD drugs only make up a small proportion of these numbers, with 1,422 given to those younger than a year old (which is still shocking, in my opinion), and just over 181,000 given to those aged four to five. How is it even legal to give a baby ADHD medication? How is it safe to give a child amphetamines? Would we give our children crystal meth? If the answer is no, then it shouldn’t be happening.

Aside from ADHD medication, the most popular drug of choice among doctors are anti-depressants and anti-psychotics (like anti-anxiety drugs). Over 227,132 babies under one year old and nearly 248,000 of those aged four to five take anti-anxiety drugs.

What’s even more shocking is the fact that experts believe these estimates are too low and the real numbers are actually much higher, due in part to the tendency for some doctors to hand out psychiatric medications for “off-label” uses. This dangerous practice involves giving out a drug to treat something that it is not indicated for, with long-term effects being completely unknown.

Sounds safe, right?

More Concerning For Foster Care Children

Use of these drugs are even more widespread in the foster care system. Why are foster children a target of the pharma-psychiatry industry? They see foster children as potential customers, because the residents of foster homes, group and individual, are a “captive audience” – in the sense that the foster parent or staff member will ensure that the resident takes the pills. In this way, non-compliance – the great drain on pharma revenue – becomes a non-issue (2).

Foster care children, without a doubt, are going through a tough time, seeing as how they never truly have a “family” to latch onto. This is especially true of children in the Child and Family Services (CFS) here in Winnipeg, a racist system that consists of over 90% indigenous children in Manitoba alone. When children don’t have a sense of community and belonging, they are going to have feelings and emotions, which, if they don’t know how to deal with them, may utilize them in ways that seem “violent” or “mis-behaving.”

So, instead of looking at the root cause of the issue and treating mental woes, foster children are given psychiatric drugs to control their behaviours. Most are prescribed anti-psychotics, one of the most powerful classes of psychiatric drugs with incredibly harmful side effects.

By re-labelling every conceivable kind of misbehaviour as “mental illness,” psychiatry has legitimized the use of drugs to “treat” this behaviour. This is obviously a problem.

Phil Hickey who wrote the article The Drugging of Children in Foster Care, describes it beautifully:

Psychiatry, over the past five decades, has systematically and deceptively pursued a self-serving policy of medicalizing virtually every significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving.  Their pharma allies have provided the money, and psychiatry has provided the credentials, in what is arguably the most widespread and destructive swindle in human history.  And they have been enormously successful.  Their spurious notions are widely accepted today as reality.

No significant progress will be possible in these areas until the swindle is finally and utterly exposed, and sanity is restored to our conceptualizations of human activity.  Until then, despite the protests of politicians, advocates, journalists, and others, the pharma-psychiatry maw will remain wide open, and the ranks of “the mentally ill” who need “treatment” will continue to grow.”

Safer Alternatives To Mind-Altering Drugs

While adults can make the conscious, independent decision about whether or not they want to drug themselves, children aren’t really given the option. They don’t have the cognition to fully understand the lifelong impact of such a choice, and this basically amounts to forced medication. But why do the parents allow their children to get medicated? Maybe it’s the fact that the parents, too, take psychiatric medications. Maybe it’s because people have come to the point that their doctors have mind-warped them into believing that these medications are harmless.

Not only do anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs carry the risk of heart attack, psychosis, suicidal ideation, diabetes, stroke, mania and sudden death, but many of the high-profile public shooting in recent years were perpetrated by young people on such drugs.

My neuroscience professor once told me to “never mess with brain chemistry,” and yet, that is exactly what is happening to these children (and adults alike). As brain chemistry is modified, we run into the issue of delayed development and other cognitive disorders that are essentially irreversible.

Children are constantly learning how the world works, how to act, and in which ways to behave. Their tiny growing bodies are figuring out how to be human, while Big Pharma is tries to suppress just that. As adults, we know that life is full of ups and downs. Children need to learn coping strategies when they’re young, so that they can carry it on with them throughout their lifetime.

There are many safer alternatives to mind-altering drugs. For example, yoga, mindfulness, breathing exercises, art therapy, physical exercise, ecotherapy (like getting out in nature at least once a day), and so much more. Taking a look at diet and ensuring there are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables being consumed day in, day out, is also of crucial importance. If our brain is lacking certain nutrients from an influx of too many processed foods, you can be rest assured that a child’s behaviour will reflect just that.

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