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ADHD drugs

Do Meds Reduce the Risk of Being Bullied – or Increase It?

In a recent post, I explored the question of whether meds can help reduce bullying behavior in kids with psychiatric conditions, since they are more likely to bully peers than kids without such problems.

But research shows that kids with psychiatric problems are also more likely to be bullied - and that those who are bullied are at elevated risk of suffering from psychiatric disorders later on.

In my own research for my book on young adults who grew up taking psychiatric meds, I was struck that almost everyone I interviewed reported having been bullied during childhood or adolescence (some also reported bullying other kids).

So how does taking psychiatric meds affect the likelihood of kids being bullied? Do the drugs enhance kids' self-esteem and behavior so that they're less likely to be picked on? Or do kids get teased because they take meds?


ADHD drugs

Enduring Psychic Pain vs. Feeling “High” on Meds?


Last week, I featured a guest post from M., a reader from Texas who began taking Ritalin for ADHD when she was 12, then quit before college.

M. concluded in retrospect that taking that taking Ritalin taught her she couldn't rely on herself to control her behavior. Instead, she learned to look to others for feedback, which she thinks provoked her anxiety.

Today, I'm following up with the second half of M.'s medication story, about her experience starting Zoloft in her mid-20s to treat some of that residual anxiety. Read on to find out how she fared during a second stab at medication treatment.


ADHD drugs

Ritalin and Relying On Others for Approval

Today I'm featuring the first of two guest posts from a reader, M., about her experience taking Ritalin for ADHD as a teenager and later taking Zoloft during her 20s and early 30s for anxiety.

In this post, M., now 34 and living near Dallas, discusses how her views about Ritalin shifted as she got older. Ultimately, she came to suspect that relying on the medication actually exacerbated her anxiety - and may even have led, in a roundabout way, to her going on antidepressants later on.

And now, in her own words:


ADHD drugs

Can We Medicate Away Childhood Bullying?


In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the prescribing of psychiatric medication to treat aggression in children.

Specifically, atypical antipsychotic and mood stabilizing drugs, originally developed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults, are now routinely prescribed to treat the aggression that occurs in a variety of childhood psychiatric disorders.

Prescriptions for atypical antipsychotics increased sixfold between 1993 and 2002, and the majority were prescribed to treat non-psychotic aggression, according to a task force that recently published guidelines on how to treat aggression in kids.

But these drugs carry the risk of serious side effects, notably severe weight gain and metabolic changes that can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Critics, including many in the medical community, have said they are over-prescribed.

At the same time, we're in the midst of a collective national hand-wringing over how to reduce childhood bullying. Might drugs that curb aggression be the answer?


Antidepressants

Dealing With Medication Changes As A New Mom

When I can, I like to feature guest posts from people who have grown up taking psychiatric medications, and for today’s post we’re lucky to have a firsthand account of dealing with medication switches as a new mom from Claire Robson.
Claire, who gave birth to her daughter last September, is one of the people whose stories I feature in detail in my new book, Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up.
Claire began taking antidepressants for mood swings and depression when she was eleven years old. Medication was never a quick fix for her, in large part because it caused intense side effects, primarily extreme exhaustion. Two decades later, she is still adjusting her regimen, most recently because she has had her first child and is struggling with postpartum depression.



ADHD drugs

After Years On ADHD Meds, No Shortage of Questions


What are the issues involved in taking stimulant medications for ADHD from early elementary school onward? And what happens when someone who has done this decides to quit the drugs in college - only to find her motivation and academic capabilities diminish without the meds, and to suffer a crisis of identity and mood problems upon resuming them?

Two recent guest posts from a reader raised these questions and prompted ample discussion and comments from readers. In those posts, I let the young woman in question speak for herself. Now, I'd like to highlight some of the larger issues her story illustrates.



ADHD drugs

After Years On ADHD Meds, Searching For The Authentic Self

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Yesterday, I published the first part of a guest post from a young woman, now 20 years old, who had spent the majority of her life - pretty much as long as she can remember, she says - taking medications for ADHD.
After working hard in high school and getting into her top-choice college, she decided she wanted to see what she was like without medication. She wanted to prove to her parents - and to herself - that she could function well in school and in life without the drugs she'd been taking for so long.
The summer before beginning college, she stopped taking her medication. Here, in her words, is what happened afterwards, and how it changed her view of herself and her need for the drugs.


ADHD drugs

Growing Up With ADHD Meds – And Deciding to Quit Them

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I'm always thrilled when readers write in wanting to share their experiences or their children's experiences with medication.

So often when we talk about psychiatric meds, we discuss it only on the most superficial level. But when people have a chance to really open up about the ways they think long-term medication has impacted them, I believe they can share some valuable insights and lessons.

I try to provide that kind of in-depth storytelling in my new book, Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up, but with so many medications, so many psychiatric disorders, and infinite life experiences accompanying them, there are many more stories out there to tell.

I was intrigued and pleased, then, when a young woman, a 20-year-old incoming college junior who grew up in Georgia, wrote me to say that she wanted to tell her story of taking medications for ADHD "for as long as I can remember."



ADHD drugs

Is Early Intervention Worth It?

On this blog and in my new book, Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up, I explore young people's experiences with medication. And oftentimes, by exposing their ambivalence, even their resentment, toward their treatment from an early age, I end up implicitly questioning the value of early intervention for mental illness.

So in honor of the American Psychological Association's Mental Health Month Blog Party Day, I want to address the question of whether I think early intervention is worth it.



General

What Do Kids Think About Their Medications?

To cap off National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week, I'd like to highlight a fascinating report that presents youth and families' attitudes toward children's treatment with psychiatric medication.

As I argue in my new book, Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up, the topic of medicating young people is endlessly debated, but all too rarely do we hear from the young people themselves about their experiences.

This report, published a few years back by the Parent/Professional Advocacy League and the Institute for Community Health, two research and advocacy groups in Massachusetts, is an exception. It provides a valuable look into youth perspectives of their psychopharmacological treatment.