Last week, The Post reported that more than 145,000 city children struggle with mental illness or other emotional problems. That estimate, courtesy of New York’s Health Department, equals an amazing 1 in 5 kids. Could that possibly be true?
In the last 20 years, rates of attention deficit disorder have tripled, while autistic disorder and childhood bipolar disorder have each increased by a remarkable 40-fold. Human nature just doesn’t change that quickly, but the labels follow fashion and can escalate dramatically without there being an actual increase in symptoms. Our kids haven’t suddenly become sicker, it’s just that diagnoses are applied to them more loosely.
Some of the broadening usefully captures missed cases, but there has been a big overshoot because of aggressive drug-company advertising. Once the adult market was saturated, pharmaceutical manufacturers turned their greedy attention to kids and began a sometimes illegal campaign to convince doctors, parents and teachers that every childhood problem is a mental disorder, the result of a chemical imbalance that requires a pill solution.
Medication use in children has skyrocketed — great news for the shareholders, but potentially quite dangerous for the children.
Perhaps most troubling about all this is how it is changing the definition of normal behavior. Is a kid who is more interested in playing outside than sitting in a classroom suffering from ADD — or simply 7 years old? Is a child who slams his bedroom door and refuses to come to supper suffering from depression — or having a tantrum?
We should not medicalize the aches and pains of normal childhood.
Allen Frances, MD, was the chairperson of the task force for the fourth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” His new book, “Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life” (William Morrow) is out in May.
Read the Full Article Here: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/disease_called_childhood_2neQ7SB47IkYOdOeFCScjJ