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Friday, September 07, 2007

The Drugging of our Children

(Photo courtesy of WikiMedia) Here is a long, interesting, and infuriating video by Gary Null titled The Drugging of Our Children. It explores the prevalence of Ritalin for the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Michael Moore is interviewed in the film, and while I'm not a huge fan of his, he is pretty well spot-on with his words in this film.

There are interviews with several young people that have been on drugs for ADHD and/or depression, all with interesting stories of the effects Ritalin and the SSRIs had on them and their demeanor. One lady's story entails her refusal to put her child on Ritalin as the school demanded she do for him to stay in school. Child Protective Services removed her son from the home and put him on the drugs. She later "kidnapped" him and left for Canada, but the FBI pursued her there and had her son put back into an institution. She had a choice of political asylum in Canada or fighting to keep her son. She chose to be imprisoned to fight for her son. To this day, her son has still not been returned to her. Granted, she shouldn't have taken her son from a government facility.

Obviously this is only one side of the story and is intended to create a certain reaction, but the video is quite interesting. I can't speak on Ritalin or SSRIs as I'm not a doctor nor well-versed in the workings of those drugs. I will say though that I doubt either ADHD or depression is underdiagnosed. I highly doubt that MORE kids need to be on these drugs, especially when it's quite possible that a change in diet, sleep, or exercise patterns could rid a child of ADHD. A kid fed the typical morning breakfast of sugary cereal or waffles or Pop-Tarts is unlikely to be able to pay attention very well in class.

It almost seems like the schools are trying to medicate the "kid" right out of the child. Three times as many boys are diagnosed with ADHD compared to girls. Perhaps the learning environment is not set up for the way that boys learn. Boys and girls are not the same and something tells me that there isn't something inherently wrong with boys that makes them more susceptible to this disease, especially since it's reported in the video that there is no actual difference in brain activity of an ADHD vs non-ADHD brain. Maybe the boys are bored so they act up. And in a system where teachers and counselors are making diagnoses based on subjective determinations, rather than objective tests, the bias towards boys seems to confirm that there is something else going on.

We live in a fast-paced culture now. In most households, both parents work to be "successful". Poor nutrition is prevalent in our society. This study reports that 51% of families eat fast food one to two times a week and 7% eat it three to four times a week. Family dinner time doesn't exist anymore and with the growth of over-sugared, under-exercised, and overweight kids, it's easy to see that the delicate balance of hormones in a kid's brain could go a bit haywire. That doesn't mean the proper recourse is a drug. It is the easy way, but not the proper way when switching to a diet based on natural foods and spending some time exercising or playing as a family would do wonders for the child. Once you start medicating, you then have to medicate the side effects, of which many report hallucinations and violent tendencies. And then there are the ties to murder and suicide.

This story reminded me about this article Most People Are Depressed for a Very Good Reason. There are probably some cases where antidepressants are the right course of action. There are probably many more where the right course of action is for the person taking them to make changes to their life.