Psychiatric drugs can lead to increased risks of future dementia? That’s the latest research findings from this week, and this news should trigger alarms everywhere. In addition to the current FDA black box warnings already required on psychiatric drugs (including risks of homicidal and suicidal ideation), patients being prescribed these drugs now have early onset of dementia to add to the list of potential risks. How much more do we have to learn about these dangerous drugs before we push back? And what about kids — wouldn’t we be far better off teaching them effective life skills and better ways to manage their problems rather than just throwing drug prescription after prescription at them with the hopes the drugs will fix the problem?
Are all the side effects really worth taking these drugs?
With a growing list of potential side effects, it’s time to dig deep and reconsider if using psychotropic makes sense, especially for kids. With efficacy already in question (meaning there’s not even consensus these drugs “work”), it behooves people to weigh their current problems versus the potential of even greater problems should they (or their kids) be prescribed any number of pharmaceutical drugs designed to improve upon what critics argue are common life issues and problems. For example, depression can be a major life disruption, but adding a drug cocktail to try and fix the problem might result in even more problems in the future if any one of the listed side effects should occur. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a number of healthy, effective, and side-effect-free ways to treat depression (even if the prescribing doctor doesn’t mention these ideas). Seeking individual and/or group therapy, exercising, and cultivating new hobbies and interests are proven ways to help with depression, and the best part is there are no side effects.
Profits, or legitimate help?
At some point we need to critically evaluate whether the rampant rush to medicate Americans is being driven by proven ways to improve upon human conditions, or merely fiscally-driven decisions that drive profits and keep shareholders happy? More kids today are being prescribed endless amounts of drugs, often for very suspect conditions (i.e. if your 5 year old kid struggles with sitting still he might not be ADHD, but instead simply a KID). From my view there are not enough critical conversations happening, and too many people are simply accepting their doctor’s prescriptions without question when oftentimes these prescriptions are written without even a mental health assessment occurring. Does it seem right that in many cases parents can simply ask their pediatrician for a prescription drug to help their situation?
Not teaching kids life skills
Another consequence of choosing prescription drugs to help with your child’s issues is the example being set — why try and develop life skills to improve upon the problem when there is a pill that fixes everything? When a kid takes a drug to address his or her condition, it is not uncommon for them to think that the only way you fix _________ is to take a drug. Is that what we want kids to think, or should we be doing a much better job helping and supporting kids with their problems in the same ways of generations past? Learning life skills won’t ever lead to a greater risk for dementia, but scientific finding are showing that psychiatric drugs may.
These most recent findings linking psychiatric drugs to dementia are not surprising, especially if you look at how many other serious side effect warnings already exist. What’s most important is that people do their homework, use critical thinking, and explore all options (including counseling) before deciding upon psychiatric drugs.