Mental health problems often don’t reveal their symptoms until children reach their teenage years.
While teens and young adults may be pre-disposed to some mental health conditions and illnesses, researchers believe that it takes some sort of stressor or event to set the wheels fully in motion. Perhaps this is why teens and young adults suddenly have so much trouble: their bodies and brains are changing. Unfortunately, one “quick-fix” solution to manage mental health issues includes prescribing anti-psychotics for these struggling teens while they work through therapy. But, is so much medication really necessary? If the brain is still developing and so many changes are occurring, why are so many teens on anti-psychotics? Is this helping, or harming them?
Why Anti-Psychotics are Prescribed
Anti-psychotics are frequently prescribed as a means of controlling psychosis. It may be due to frequent psychotic episodes, or to control delusions, hallucination, schizophrenia, or bi-polar disorder, and for those afflicted, the right dose and type of medication can have a positive effect on their lives. But, like all medications, the medical community often finds secondary uses for them, and they are frequently related – even if distantly – to similar conditions. Such is the case with mental illness.
Currently, treatment for other mental health issues has grown to include the use of anti-psychotics to manage conditions such as depression, PTSD, ADHD, some forms of autism, and more. In fact, a study conducted by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University’s Dr. Mark Olfson, a clinical psychiatry professor, revealed that for children and teens, one in every three visits with a psychiatrist ends with them being prescribed anti-psychotics as part of their therapy.
Given this dramatic rise in antipsychotic treatments in young people, Olfson concluded that “Practice has overstepped research,” and further adding that this practice of prescribing antipsychotics so freely “should give physicians pause.” Many in the medical community agree with Olfson, particularly when considering the number of side effects that go along with taking this type of medication.
What Are Some Alternative Therapy Solutions?