West Virginia parents who are hoping to help their troubled or disturbed children often receive prescriptions for psychiatric drugs for them. This class of drugs includes antidepressants, anti-psychotics and addictive stimulants for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Nationwide, physicians have given over 8 million children from infancy through age 17 these types of drugs for defiant behaviors and mental health disorders. Parents sometimes question the appropriateness of these prescriptions because treating children with these drugs could amount to medical malpractice.
Research does not support psychiatric drugs for children
Studies have found only limited benefits of these drugs in a tiny minority of extreme cases. For the most part, physicians recommend psychiatric drugs for children without any scientific basis.
Physicians have no reliable psychological tests to use on children to see if they really have depression or bipolar disorders. No blood tests or other scans exist that could identify a biological foundation for these diagnoses.
Pediatricians lack mental health training
In many cases, the pediatricians prescribing psychiatric drugs lack expertise in mental health disorders. Even so, they often tell parents complaining of their children’s difficult behavior that these pharmaceuticals are the answer. Pediatricians make these decisions without the benefit of knowing what the long-term effects would be on a child’s growing brain.
On top of this, psychiatric drugs usually have no FDA approval for children. Using drugs for unapproved uses is known as off-label prescribing. When bad results occur, parents might take legal action for medical malpractice.
Insurers promote psychiatric drugs for children
As with most things with the U.S. health system, insurers direct the outcomes. Insurers pay for office visits and pharmaceutical prescriptions and tend not to cover therapies that could help children overcome their mental and behavioral challenges.