Why Are So Many 2-Year-Olds on Antipsychotic Drugs?

It's not just doctors armed with prescription pads and itchy trigger fingers.

When children run around like crazy, it’s not a big deal right? Don’t we commonly say that kids will just be kids? Many may agree with that position, but it looks like not everyone does. The New York Times broke the news last week that, in 2014 alone, approximately 20,000 prescriptions for antipsychotics were made out to children under the age of two.


If that sounds shocking, you’re not the only one. Antipsychotic drugs generally aren’t tested for use on children, nor do they come with usage instructions for such a young population. Some speculate that not all of the prescriptions made out were meant for children. In some cases, they might have been actually intended for an uninsured or underinsured parent, for instance. But at least some of the prescriptions were meant for toddlers with behaviors that parents and/or doctors deemed unhealthy or aggressive.

Below, psychiatrist Julie Holland delves into the dangers of overmedication: 


The 20,000 prescriptions made out in 2014 represent a 50 percent rise from the year before. But before we go demonizing the parents and doctors that give these powerful drugs to youngsters, it’s helpful to understand the circumstances that encourage them to do so in the first place.

In a world in which both parents work and affordable childcare is a scarce commodity, parents are panicked about what to do with young children who remain severely withdrawn or who consistently act out in ways daycare providers can’t handle. Parents need their children to “behave” in order to be able to focus on making the money that keeps them afloat.

Medicating for behavioral issues at two years old is far too early to be introducing such powerful drugs to young and changing minds. One can only hope this trend wanes, and other kinds of healthier support become available to those parents struggling with their children’s behavior.

If we had more flexible work policies, guaranteed leave, and better access to childcare in the U.S., perhaps we would see this disturbing statistic reverse itself for good.

Image: Uncleraf/Shutterstock

--


**

Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors.  Follow her on Twitter:@stefanicox

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less