Archives for April, 2012
How many kids take medications for mental health problems in the U.S. these days? It’s a simple question, and one I’ve been getting asked a lot lately as I’ve been interviewed about my new book, Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up, about coming of age on psychiatric drugs. And I’ve been embarrassed to hem and haw and not to have a single, easy answer. Because here’s the thing: There are a lot of piecemeal stats from a lot of different sources, but they vary wildly, and there’s no single, unassailable source.
If some particularly controlling parents knew psychiatric medications were likely to have certain side effects, might they purposely inflict such treatment on their children as a way of controlling some of their offspring's more unruly tendencies? Like, say, their kids' rampant youthful sexuality? That was the dystopian scenario some readers posed in response to my last blog post about psychiatric medications and sexual side effects. I have to admit, it struck me as perhaps a little far-fetched that parents would put their children on medications solely for the side effects. But, still, I wondered: If given a choice between two similar drugs, one with such side effects and one without, might a nervous parent not gravitate toward the medication that would quell their fears about burgeoning teenage sexuality?
Pediatrician and author Claudia Gold recently published a column about my book, Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up, over at The Boston Globe in which she highlighted an issue I’ve been meaning to address here for some time: Young people and medications' sexual side effects. The drugs most famous for interfering in the sexual realm are the SSRI antidepressants, like Prozac and Zoloft, which can cause loss of libido and problems with sexual arousal and orgasm. But mood stabilizers, such as Tegretol and Depakote, which are commonly used to treat bipolar disorder, also cause sexual side effects for many people Both classes of drugs have been increasingly used in young people over the past couple of decades. But if these young people experience sexual side effects from the medications, what are the effects on their psychosexual development? Should we be worried?
In this blog, I have been writing about different facets of "the experience of medication" in young people who take psychiatric drugs for a variety of conditions. I'm going to continue to do that, because there are many more topics I want to discuss (please feel free, as always, to make suggestions in the comments section if there are particular subjects you'd like me to write about). However, if you'd like to read an account of what got me interested in this subject in the first place, you might want to check out the excerpt from my new book, Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up, which is over at Salon.com.
There are times when taking psychiatric drugs makes me feel much older than I am, something a lot of my medicated peers tell me they've also experienced. These last few weeks, I've been feeling prematurely aged, because I've been having lots of interactions with doctors, trying to figure out which of my various meds - if any - might be contributing to a weird resurgence of my depression, coming at a time when, outside circumstances considered, I should be feeling pretty cheery. If you think the usual talk therapy-medication management model of split care that characterizes much of psychological treatment these days is bad, well, get a load of this.