One Million American Children Starting Kindergarten on Psych Drugs
By Colin Taufer
We’ve all experienced first-hand the exuberance and energy of a young child as they elbow their way through life in an effort to better understand all that is around them, to snatch up everything knowable from the world. “She, or he, is, indisputably, the most ravenous, and most successful, learning machine yet devised in the universe,” is how author Chip Walter describes the toddler in his book “The Last Ape Standing”.
The first five years of a child’s life is full of growth, exploration and wonder.
At four months old the infant can coo, laugh out loud and recognize their parent’s voice or touch. Around nine months they are able to crawl, imitate speech sounds and wave goodbye. Around their first birthday they will respond to their name, meow like a cat and melt their parents’ hearts by saying “Momma” or “Papa”. Between eighteen to twenty-four months play takes the form of stacking blocks and turning pages and kicking a ball. At the same time their ability to communicate strengthens. They’re putting together small phrases, stating needs such as hunger and thirst and, best of all, showing love by kissing their parents. Vision has fully developed by their second birthday.
By their third birthday they can focus for longer periods of time and they begin to ask questions and play cooperatively. Four years in and the youngster now has a vocabulary of more than 1000 words and uses this greater fluency to be curious and ask many questions, to sing songs and to show more independence. And a mere half a decade into their life the young man or woman is outgrowing earlier childhood fears and has a group of friends. They will imagine and pretend while playing and question others, including their parents.
All of this growth, exploration and wonder represents the natural development of the adolescent. As adults, it is easy to forget how much change happens in the first few years of a life. In these first years, every trait, physical and mental, is in the process of evolving. Nature is doing its job of building a human being, something it has done very successfully for eons.
But what happens when we give a two-year old Ritalin, a Schedule II drug in the same classification as cocaine, morphine and amphetamines?
What happens when the three-year is prescribed and fed an antidepressant like Zoloft?
What does the antipsychotic Abilify do to the physiology of a six-month-old?
How does a five-year-old react short-term and long-term to regular doses of the antianxiety drug Xanax?
These are not hypothetical questions. They are very real. According to IMS Health, the largest vendor of U.S. physician prescribing data, over one million children between the ages of 0 – 5 were prescribed psychiatric drugs in 2013.
What will happen to these children? Here is one consequence. According to the FDA, three of the most common adverse reactions of ADHD drugs are headaches, aggression and anxiety. When it comes to antidepressant drugs, the FDA reports depression and suicidal ideation as two of many of the most common adverse reactions. Some of the most common adverse reactions for Antipsychotics: weight increase, death and tremors. And for antianxiety drugs: contemplation of suicide and cardiac arrest.
More bad news. The FDA estimates that less than 1% of all serious events are ever reported to it, so the actual number of side effects occurring are most certainly higher.
Now imagine every child in America free from psych drugs.
Welcome to my monthly column. I am a career educator, writer and lifelong advocate for human rights. With each article, I hope to shine a light into the dark world of psychiatry to make stronger champions of human rights, to stir into action, to enlighten. As always, I appreciate feedback from readers. I can be reached at Colin@PsychSearch.net