Psychotropic drugs and our kids -- they go together

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Americans’ faith in, or love affair with, prescription drugs is undeniable. Now researchers have quantified it a bit further, finding that the United States is three times as likely to give antidepressants and stimulants to its children as the Netherlands and Germany.

A study published online today in the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, found that 6.7% of American kids are taking psychotropic medications, compared with 2.9% of kids in the Netherlands and 2% of those in Germany. The study, which looked at insured kids to age 19 in the year 2000, is available in full to all who want to peruse it.

The researchers noted that:

‘U.S. direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising and professional journal advertising may contribute to increased awareness and utilization of medication to treat emotional and behavioral conditions in children.’

The blog Furious Seasons, by a self-described ‘long-time psych patient who has become quite skeptical about where we are with mental health in this country,’ reviews the findings and adds:


‘I wish the authors had also pointed to differences in how mental disorders are marketed to Americans in ways that they are not in other countries. In the U.S., we have several non-profits and affiliated activists and flag wavers for almost all of the major DSM diagnoses and their job is to raise awareness and lobby the media to cover their cause. I don’t know of a correlate for these sorts of groups in Germany, especially when it comes to children.’

In the media and blog coverage of the study, no one seems to be expressing surprise at the data.

-- Tami Dennis