Polypharmacy increases; drugged toddler numbers double

Prescribing combinations of psychiatric drugs, or drug cocktails as they are called, one the least effective and most detrimental forms of psychiatric treatment known, is on the rise according to a study released just yesterday. This is according to a National Public Radio story, Increase In Psychiatric Drug Combos Increase Safety Concerns, on the subject. Alarmingly “the authors found that patients are commonly prescribed untested combinations of drugs, where the efficacy and possible side effects of the combos are unknown”.

These researchers found that from 1996 to 1997, 47% of patients were prescribed 2 or more psychiatric drugs, and those figures sharply jump to 60% for years 2005-2006.

The study looked at more than 13,000 visits to office-based psychiatrists from 1996 to 2006 using annual data from a national survey.

“There is growing evidence regarding the increased adverse effects associated with such combinations,” the authors write. For example, they cite studies that have found some combinations have resulted in weight gain and increased cholesterol levels.

I have seen studies indicating that people die at a younger age for every psychiatric drug they are given, and so I don’t see this trend as a very positive one.

Another even more alarming trend is the drugging of small children which, according to an article in Business Week, has doubled in recent years.

The overall numbers of children prescribed antipsychotics remains small, at less than one half of one percent of the national sample. But the numbers are rising. In 1999-2001, about one in 1,300 were being treated with antipsychotics. By 2007, that had risen to one in 630, according to [Mark] Olfson.

For 5-year-olds, about one in 650 were being treated in 1999-2001. That doubled, to one in 329, in 2007, he noted.

As you may have gleaned from reading this blog, I don’t regard neuroleptic drugs as very adequate baby sitters, nor do I regard them as suitable surrogate parents. When children are presented with challenges in life, their parents should be there to help them deal with those challenges. Drugs won’t make any such challenges go away.

The most common antipsychotic drug prescribed to children was risperidone (Risperdal), which accounted for nearly three-quarters of antipsychotic prescriptions. In adults and teens, risperidone is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Risperidone is also approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat unstable mood or irritability in children with autism aged 5 and up.

Giving psychiatric labels and prescribing damaging psychiatric drugs to small children is child abuse, pure and simple, and it’s not the kind of thing parents should be doing to their babies.