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Study Finds U.S. Kids Take More Psychotropic Drugs Than European

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Friday, September 26, 2008 1:11 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Protecting Your Family, ADHD, Psychotropic Drugs, Antipsychotic Drugs, Children's Health, Bipolar Disorder, Antidepressants, SSRIs


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockPhoto / kids / author: Diane39

A newly released study finds American children are three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs for mental health conditions such as bipolar disease and ADHD than that of European children.

The differences in cultural beliefs and regulatory practices about the advantages of behavioral and emotional problems may account for the extreme difference, U.S. researchers said.

Psychotropic drugs are a chemical substance that acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes to consciousness, mood, behavior and perception.

“Certainly there is great use of atypical antipsychotic drugs and SSRI antidepressants for child mental treatment in the United States than in Western Europe,” said Julie Zito, lead researcher, from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland.

“Because most use is “off-label” – without ample evidence showing risks versus benefits, close monitoring of these medications is advised.”

Researchers examined antidepressant (Prozac) and stimulant (Ritalin) use among children in the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands, for the study.

For the study, researchers examined the antidepressant use including and stimulants including in the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands for the study.

They found that the yearly prevalence of psychotropic medications among children in the U.S. was much greater than in both countries. 6.7 percent of children in the United States were taking psychotropic drugs, compared to 2.9 percent in the Netherlands and 2 percent in Germany.

Additionally, stimulant and antidepressant use was three times higher in the U.S. than in the Netherlands or Germany and the use of antipsychotic drugs was 1.5 to 2.2 times greater in the U.S. than both other countries.

What the study is unable to determine is if the use of these drugs is appropriate - given cultural variations - or whether psychotropic drugs are under prescribed by other countries or if the U.S. is over-prescribing them.

Finding what accounts for these differences may be an important factor in finding the best treatment for children with emotional and mental problems, says Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.

“It has been said countless times that the U.S. has a sick-care system not a health-care system,” Katz said. “This study affirms that stereotype, with more use of drugs for different mental conditions among children in the U.S. than that of other countries.”

The report was published in the Sept. 24 online edition of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. #


Anonymous User
Posted by immbas
Friday, September 26, 2008 4:19 PM EST

You should read the book "Mad in America" for a real perspective on the use of medications to treat mental illness in America.

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Friday, September 26, 2008 4:36 PM EST

Thanks for the comment - I will be sure to check out Mad in America. In fact, I was just getting ready to order some books from Amazon.

Anonymous User
Posted by barrry mose
Saturday, September 27, 2008 8:23 PM EST


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Comments for this article are closed.

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