Mr Vitamins Naturopath Tanya Marinovic comments on recent reports of the dramatic rise of drug use with children and adolescents. And she has some healthy suggestions...
Anti-depressant prescriptions for kids on the riseHealth experts are concerned about the large increase in the number of Australian children being prescribed drugs. These drugs include anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications for problems such as anxiety, disruptive behaviour, depression and insomnia.
Alarming increase in anti-psychotic drugsThe number of children aged between 10-14 given anti-psychotic medication has increased by 50 per cent, anti-depressants have increased by more than a third, while use of the ADHD medication Ritalin jumped 35 per cent in Australia in the last four years. These figures are from a study by the University of Sydney, recently reported by ABC News.
No drug trials on childrenAlthough anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications can be very helpful for those who need them, they are often unnecessary and, in some cases, dangerous for those who don't need them. The increase in prescription drugs is a concern as these strong drugs have not been trialled on children and can have serious side effects such as:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dizziness when changing position
- Weight gain
- Decrease in interest
- Skin rashes
- Movement disorder (muscle twitches)
- Increased risk of suicidal thinking
- Stomach pain, nausea and vomiting
Care needed with kids developmental changesKids go through developmental changes that can be challenging or dramatic in a very short period of time. So, I would be most cautious in doing anything psychiatrically with kids who are undergoing developmental challenges. Kids should be supervised by GPs who should then refer children with consistent troubling behaviour to psychologists and paediatricians. Only then, when the child has been thoroughly assessed (which would include at least 12 counselling sessions) should medication be prescribed if needed.
Suicidal thinking and behaviour from anti-depressantsIn 2004 Britain's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency issued a warning alert to health care providers of an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behaviour in children and adolescents being treated with SSRIs (serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitor), urging doctors to consider alternative therapies and, when prescribing an antidepressant, to start with the minimum dose and monitor patients carefully.
Natural treatments may have the answerDepression, anxiety, behavioural disturbances, insomnia etc. may simply be triggered by a chemical imbalance in the child’s body. Numerous studies have revealed that a holistic approach that incorporates more than one treatment method can help reduce anger, mood swings and disruptive behaviour in children with depression and OCD, anxiety and self-esteem problems linked to depression. The suggested natural health treatments include:
- Balanced diet
- Healthy lifestyle
- Nurturing environment
- Right amount of exercise
- Ruling out mineral and vitamin deficiencies, such as Pyrroles, MTHFR,
- Avoiding Food intolerances and allergens
- Healing the gut
- Treating with required nutrients
- Reducing stress with meditation, yoga
- Healthy sleep patterns, minimum 8-12 hr of sleep (according to age)
- Counselling with qualified psychologist