Archives for November, 2011
Limbs like lead. Blurry vision. Suddenly ravenous. Then, without having eaten, nauseous. I'm repeatedly mystified by the symptoms - even though they occur multiple times a week, and even though, without fail, they end in a migraine. So how can I be so dumb as to forget, or even flat-out deny, the most likely explanation for what's going on? Improbable as it sounds, it's really, really easy to misinterpret or dismiss symptoms, even of a condition you've experienced over and over. Until I learned to be more aware of the early stages of my anxiety, I tended to do the same. I'd forget or deny what was going on until the panic became ever-present, and too awful to ignore. Then I'd curse myself for not having recognized it earlier.
What does it feel like to grow up taking psychiatric meds? That's the question that has occupied me for the past couple of years. Naturally, it feels different to different people, but overall I've found that meds seem to introduce a lot of extra uncertainty into the process of coming of age. There are a lot of ways that meds make growing up more complicated, and I'll explore those in future posts. But one big factor has to do with the lack of info, from a scientific perspective, about meds' effect on developing brains and bodies.
Preparing to write this post, I started to survey the media coverage of the latest report from pharmacy giant Medco on how many Americans are taking psychiatric medications. The straight news coverage was okay, but many others simply used the report as a chance to declare - again -that Americans are "overmedicated." I don't see how you can you honestly declare that a whole country, or even any particular group, is "overmedicated" unless you can also determine what number would constitute "appropriately medicated." Not surprisingly, few people sounding off on either this report or the larger issue are willing to make such a call.
More and more people are exposed to psychiatric drugs earlier and earlier in their lives. Some professional associations now say children as young as 4 years old are old enough to start receiving medications -- usually with little research demonstrating their long-term safety on...