the medicated child
I just watched a very moving presentation on Frontline called: The Medicated Child, you can watch online here at the PBS website. this is a shocking presentation, did you know that over 6 million children are taking psychiatric drugs!? drugs that have not been tested on children, only on adults, some that cannot be offered to the elderly but can somehow open-handedly be given to children! I watched in silence, astonished that there was no mention of alternative solutions of any kind (although the story is clearly about medicating children and not about alternative solutions). I feel that this is truly an honest issue and while I want to blame the parents for their eating habits I know that there is more to it than I can understand,but I have to feel that there are ideas that have presented themselves other than pharmaceuticals and there was one letter to the editor what went like this (christina koontz's 6 year old son is a part of the frontline presentation):
Dear Christina Koontz,
My heart goes out to you. I have a wonderful 8 year old son who has Bipolar Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. I started to read the other letters in this forum and just couldn't continue. It is too easy for people to blame this epidemic on poor parenting, different diagnostic requirements or poor diet. I believe people fall back on these tired explanations, because they cannot face that this is really happening. Please allow me to share my story with you. My son changed dramatically at the age of 3. He was an easy going, very bright and happy child and then within months that child was gone. He started to pace back and forth, talking rapidly about nothing. He was starting to read, but suddenly he didn't even know the alphabet. He too would have rages that could last up to an hour. During these rages, he would try to hurt himself, banging his head against the floor and occasionally wrapping his hands around his throat to choke himself.
At first I blamed... parenting. My husband and I were divorcing and I blamed the changes we were going through and the fact that I may have been preoccupied for a time. But once things settled down, my son did not improve. He continued to deteriorate. The first doctor we saw diagnosed ADHD and my son was put on Adderall. Within a week, he had a full blown psychotic episode at his preschool. It was horrible. So we took him off it and went to see a "Play Therapist". She suggested that we were not firm enough with him. She also suggested that we didn't pay enough attention to him. Now, he is an only child, the little light of my life and if there is one thing he gets, it's attention. But chastened, we listened to her suggestions and put plans into place. No change.
Over the years we saw different professionals, he was put on Lithium at one point. It actually made him worse. Focalin was tried. That was a repeat of the Adderall experience. I went to workshops about "The Explosive Child" and while it helped me personally, my little boy was still miserable. In December 2006, his doctor tried Abilify and it worked. But not completely. He was a little better, but not at all back to what he was like before all this started. I met other parents who were struggling like me. And we all noted that this increase in these disorders was REAL and that it was exploding. Our school systems in Maine are struggling to accommodate this influx of children with unique needs.
Then we had a breakthrough. I read Rita Elkins' book "Solving the Depression Puzzle". She noted that soil depletion may account for the deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals in our diet. I continued reading other books and articles on the dramatically changing food supply in our country. For instance: Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied in England as being important for brain function and managing bipolar. But we don't get as much here in our diets as we used to because our livestock no longer eats grass. So I took my son to a naturopath doctor who participates in the DAN! program. (Defeat Autism Now). He gave us a regimen of supplements we could sneak into my son's diet, including zinc and magnesium which apparently are minerals missing from our soil. Within a month we noticed a difference. It has now been six months. My son's school is amazed at the difference. Where he used to have 1 or 2 rages a DAY lasting up to an hour, he now has them maybe once a week... and they last 5 minutes. He just seems to be coming back to us. He is still on 10mg of Abilify a day, because we really don't want to change anything until summer, but if he continues to improve we are going to try and go med free.
I don't know that this would work for every child with bipolar, but the fact is something has changed in our ENVIRONMENT. You can't explain away the increases in all of these diseases with talk of bad parenting or better diagnostics. And as for diet... our farming techniques here in the U.S. (monoculture farming, pesticide use and Genetically Modified Foods) pretty much make it impossible to eat a "well balanced meal". We have also been trying to "go organic" and buy local as much as possible, even though it is expensive. I wish I could describe the difference in my son. He's so much happier, calmer, more present, less frustrated and you can tell that HE is relieved. I wish you strength and courage in your journey. I cried when I watched "The Medicated Child", knowing first hand how terrifying it is. How helpless you feel. I send hugs to DJ.
All the best,
obviously this cannot be the 'answer' that everyone has waited for but this book certainly deserves a read (and rita elkins is a big proponent of what I also believe which is that sugar is acutally a drug), I have heard so much about the omega-3 depletion from the story above to the woman who cured her eczema with omega-3. I wanted to take the chance to talk about something and also offer an 'idea' not just present the terrifying subject of: The Medicated Child ...please share any of your ideas and we can hope that the story can continue to get better and many of these medicated children can be saved.