It is good news that a conference was just held in the Vatican to discuss why psychotropic drugs are being increasingly prescribed to young children and whether the clinical trials support this increase. This conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and brought together psychiatrists, psychologists and other health care workers from around the world. It is a major step in the right direction that the epidemic of unnecessarily medicated children is finally being addressed.
Prescription rates of psychotropic drugs have increased 274 percent over the past ten years on a global basis. Considering many parts of the world haven’t even been exposed to psychiatric drugs, that’s a lot. Eleven million children in the United States alone are taking SSRI antidepressants. If antipsychotics and stimulants are added to that figure, the total would be a staggering amount of children on psychotropic drugs. It is time that the psychotropic drugging of young children is examined and questioned.
The professionals attending this conference at the Vatican all generally know the truth about psychiatric drugs and their harmful effects. We have all been misled by bogus claims that these drugs are safe and effective, but these attendees have their facts in order and know that is not the case.
One such fact stated by an attendee is that behavior problems in children have many different causes. Psychotropic drugs are not treating the root of the problem. The drugs are just suppressing their emotions and behavior. Children are basically being sedated with mind-altering chemicals so that they are more manageable to adults.
Those participating in the Vatican conference see that time must be spent with children in order to really help them and a quick fix with a pill is not the answer. In fact, finding alternative ways to handle behavior problems and using support networks is encouraged by these professionals.
Another reason the Vatican attendees recommend avoiding psychotropic drugs is the fact they are well aware of the adverse side effects. SSRI antidepressants double the risk of suicide in children. Antipsychotics cause cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes, tardive dyskinesia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome and early death. Stimulants can cause sudden cardiac arrest, suicide and they stunt growth. On top of that, there is no scientific evidence that any of these drugs are effective.
This information may be well known by those at the Vatican conference, but it is not readily available to even primary care physicians who do most of the prescribing. Doctors routinely prescribe SSRI antidepressants or antipsychotics to children as if they were as harmless as aspirin. Antipsychotics used to be given only to adults with serious problems, but they are now being given to children as it’s an easy option. These are very strong mind-altering drugs that are not to be taken lightly.
Parents are not told about the serious side effects sometimes if the doctor is not aware of them either. One reason the side effects are not well known is that the pharmaceutical companies spend a fortune on making their drug look good. The side effects are there in small print if you look, but anyone’s attention is directed to their “successful” studies which are most likely exaggerating anything positive and playing down anything negative.
Select professionals know this fact. A psychologist at the Vatican conference stated that the aim of this meeting is to counteract this misinformation put out by the drug companies. It only makes sense that drug companies are putting a lot into making their drug look good because clinical trials do not support the increase in prescription rates. A Harvard psychiatrist stated that in the case of antidepressants, the difference between the drug and a placebo is clinically meaningless. This basically means taking an antidepressant is ineffective, but don’t forget it still comes with serious adverse side effects.
Additionally, a therapist at the Vatican conference said it is time to stop prescribing drugs that are not backed up by clinical trials and scientific evidence. If this is not done, the therapist stated the obvious truth that instead we are putting children in danger and at risk for serious health problems, drug dependence and disability.
Without cold hard facts, the right to informed consent cannot take place. Parents and doctors and other professionals all need to have access to true information on psychotropic drugs. This way parents and doctors can discuss treatment together and make an informed decision as to what’s best for the child. Without true information, a wrong and detrimental decision can made at the expense of the child’s health and welfare.
Informed consent will be challenging as long as the pharmaceutical industry is in the way of full disclosure of the truth about the harmful effects of psychiatric drugs. Thanks to their influence, it’s common that people think they need a drug to function normally or to deal with their problems. Thanks to the drug companies, we are now a pill-popping society that thinks drugs are the first thing to ask for when seeking treatment.
A therapist at the Vatican conference said honest science dictates that everything else should be tried first and psychotropic drugs last, as there is good sound data that proves this is the correct order of treatment. Instead, drug companies bombard us with misleading advertisements, suppress the fact that violence is linked to psychiatric drugs and generally provide distorted information.
Perhaps the Vatican can use its influence to get the word out worldwide about the harmful effects of psychotropic drugs. In the meantime, protect your children and demand all the information you can get, so you can exercise your right to informed consent.