Dadvice #8: Too Young To Medicate ADHD And Bipolar Disorder?
Back in 2002 while in college, I was a substitute teacher. I remember how for several Kindergartners, I had to make sure they took their medicine for ADHD. I didn’t agree with what I was doing, but I wasn’t their parent; nor was I even their real teacher.
Recently I pitched this question to everyone on Facebook and Twitter:
“How young is too young to medicate a child for ADHD and/or bipolar disorder?”
Very few people were willing to answer this question, but those who did A) are school teachers and B) replied that children shouldn’t be medicated for those things at all.
I think in our culture it has become taboo to talk about this subject openly because so many adults are on some kind of prescription for depression. To speak against medicating any person for a psychiatric disorder is a sure fire way to offend plenty of people in your social network of friends, family, and random people on Facebook you pretend to remember from college.
But I’m not talking about adults being treated for psychiatric disorders, I’m wanting to have an open discussion about kids being medically treated for these things.
The question I am asking is how young is too young for a child to be treated for ADHD and bipolar disorder?
See, I am trying to find out how America truly feels about this issue; whether you support it, oppose it, or are confused by it.
(I’m not talking about Autism, by the way.)
I should point out why I keep relating ADHD and bipolar disorder as if they are related. That’s because, according to the documentary Frontline: The Medicated Child (available on Netflix streaming, pbs.org, and YouTube), of all the children who are diagnosed with ADHD, 23% of them also are diagnosed as bipolar.
As of 2008 when the documentary was made, there were over 6 million kids being treated for ADHD and depression. I can’t imagine that number has gotten any lower since then.
See the slippery slope? Get medicated for ADHD at age 6 and work your way up to depression medication by the time you’re 10 years old.
It’s evidently unethical and socially unacceptable to test out psychiatric drugs on children before the drugs go out on the market, so children are given the same medication that are given to adults.
Either way, kids become the Guinea pigs for these drugs.
So how are children diagnosed for these psychiatric disorders anyway? According to Frontline: The Medicated Child, it really just comes down to a doctor’s simple analysis:
The key behaviors of ADHD sufferers are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
And for bipolar disorder: euphoria or irritability, grandiose ideas, excessive talking, racing thoughts, and unusual energy.
I guess the question is, how is every kid in America not a sufferer of ADHD or bipolar disorder? More importantly, how is my 16 month-old toddler not the poster child for these psychiatric disorders?
Obviously, I’m leaving myself open for someone to say, “You don’t know what it’s like to raise a child with ADHD and/or depression…”.
That’s right. I don’t and I won’t.
Because I’m drawing the behavioral boundaries for him; even now. He can’t even speak a full sentence yet, but he is already very aware of what he can and can not do.
I do the main behavioral training in my house for my kid. No thanks to a doctor; no thanks to medicine.
Yes, that’s right: I said “behavioral training.” Children need to be properly trained; not treated.
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