Our Growing Problem

An article has appeared in MedScape Today about a survey on the mental health of children and adolescents in the USA, First National Prevalence Data of Mental Disorders in American Youth Released.

Had I received results stating the following my results would have been fit fodder for the trashcan.

Approximately 1 in every 4 to 5 youth in the United States meet criteria for a mental disorder with severe impairment across their lifetime, new research shows.

20-25% of United States youth have a “mental disorder with severe impairment” this survey says. I’m not looking for “mental illness” myself, but I’m thinking this Prevalence Data definitely shows the characteristic danger of looking for such disorders. The inquisition, for example, although it had few volunteers for burning at the stake had no problem finding what it considered witches.

Diagnosing kids nuts has become very trendy during the last few years.

According to the article, the field of child psychiatric epidemiology has grown exponentially during the past 2 decades, with numerous regional US studies reporting that 1 in every 3 to 4 children experiences a mental disorder and approximately 1 in 10 children has “serious emotional disturbance, with few affected youth receiving adequate mental health care.”

We have an epidemic of psychiatrists suffering from Over Diagnosing Over Prescribing Disorder in this country. These doctors are apparently very much in need of treatment. I would suggest the lodging of fraud charges against them, the suspension of their licenses to practice medicine, and in the most severe of cases, prison time.

At 31.9% the investigators found that anxiety disorders were the most common. These were followed by behavior disorders (19.1%), mood disorders (14.3%), and substance use disorders (11.4%). Approximately 40% of study participants with one class of disorder also met criteria for another class of lifetime disorder.

Anxiety is perfectly natural in children and adolescents. It tends to diminish with time as young people become a little more familiar with the world in which they live and move. It is, in fact, a part of the growing up process. Some of the other disorders listed here amount to little more than blowing some of that anxiety all out of proportion. The claim of multiple psychiatric disorders for any one individual is a sure indicator of Over Diagnosing Over Prescribing Disorder on the part of that person’s psychiatrist. “Lifetime Disorders” are kind of like Neverland, they only exist in so far as people believe in them.

Researchers report the overall prevalence of disorders with severe impairment and/or distress was 22.2% (11.2% with mood disorders, 8.3% with anxiety disorders, and 9.6% behavior disorders.)

“Severe impairment and/or distress” you say? If you were looking for perfect children, you are going to be let down. All the perfect people, perfect couples, etc., out there only exist as an illusion of advertising, if not proselytizing.

They found the median age of onset of disorder classes was earliest for anxiety (6 years), followed by 11 years for behavior, 13 years for mood, and 15 years for substance use disorders.

When anxiety becomes a problem at 6 years of age, the real problem is the anxiety of the parents. Ditto those disorders brought on by the advent of puberty. All I can say is, mother, father, teacher, doctor, CUT IT OUT! Let your kids grow and develop in their own ways and at their own speeds. Stop labeling them. This Fruitcake Land used to be America, the land of the free of “mental disorder”, once, and so it has the potential of becoming again, relatively speaking anyway.

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4 Responses

  1. I sometimes read neuroskeptic’s blog. He’s an actual researcher and He has a one in four tag and, as a researcher, appears to be skeptical of these 1 in 4 (or 5) claims.

    • I believe I’ve had the pleasure of neuroskeptic’s commentary on my blog at some point in the past.

      I share his skepticism about the usual stats, those bandied about by this “fund the mental health system” organization or that, but here the researchers claim to be trying to get a representative sample.

      According to investigators, led by Kathleen Ries Merikangas, PhD, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, this is the “first lifetime prevalence data on a broad range of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents.

      I’m more concerned that this “mental illness” problem among children and adolescents is a phenomenon created and exasperated by the mental health establishment itself. I believe the phenomenon to be growing, and rapidly so. It’s not that 1 in 4 (or 5) children suffer from a “mental disorder”–What’s a “mental disorder”?– it’s that given the current treatment climate they are able to contrue things in that fashion.

      The survey is a face-to-face survey of 10,123 adolescents living in the continental United States. DSM-IV mental disorders were assessed using a modified version of the fully structured World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

      “De-stigmatization” efforts, when such efforts mean getting more and more people, children even, into mental health treatment, and on psychiatric drugs, I feel must be profoundly misdirected. We are selling this notion of “sickness” to children who, all too often, must of necessity grow into “sick” adults. I should think that it would make more sense (the opposite of absurdity) to have less people seek “treatment” rather than more. It’s a “disability” system that is growing way faster than the general population, and that’s going to mean more serious problems for all of us somewhere down the line.

  2. “When anxiety becomes a problem at 6 years of age, the real problem is the anxiety of the parents. Ditto those disorders brought on by the advent of puberty. All I can say is, mother, father, teacher, doctor, CUT IT OUT! Let your kids grow and develop in their own ways and at their own speeds. Stop labeling them. This Fruitcake Land used to be America, the land of the free of “mental disorder”, once, and so it has the potential of becoming again, relatively speaking anyway.”

    Right on. EXACTLY.

    Eliminate involuntary commitment and the insanity defense and American’s will have no choice but to start being more considerate of each-other… because… otherwise… their friends and family would just start to disappear, perhaps. They could not control their supposedly “loved” friends and family so easily.

    Liberty, and personal responsibility

    • Thanks, Michael.

      What people need to see here is that when one person’s liberties are under threat the liberties of everybody are under threat as well.

      I’m not sure we need to eliminate the insanity defense, nonetheless, I’m sure we need to eliminate the insanity excuse. Disorientation, confusion, “sickness”, whatever you want to call it, it does not excuse a person from being ultimately responsible for the consequences of any action that person may under take. We certainly don’t need to be offering perpetual vacation licenses to people on account of potentially temporary lapses in their understanding.

      Freedom, responsibility, and light heartedness.

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