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Parents Pressured to Keep Children on Psychiatric Drugs

One father noticed his son was apparently experiencing serious side effects from Ritalin prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and he decided to take the boy off the medication. Now, he says he may be accused of child abuse. The 12-year-old boy began displaying some symptoms including losing weight, not eating and not sleeping that his father suspected were related to the use of Ritalin. After stopping the drugs the boy was sleeping better and his appetite had returned but his teachers complained about the return of his disruptive behavior. The father was told by a detective that if he did not medicate his son, he would be arrested for child abuse and neglect. This father is one of many parents facing a dilemma over whether to medicate children who suffer from mental disorders.

Meanwhile, concerns of overmedicating children have risen as antidepressant use has also increased. According to one study, antidepressant use increased 49 percent among children younger than 18 between 1998 and 2002. Preschoolers up to age 5, the study found, were the fastest-growing users of prescription antidepressants. Also, as I've written in past articles, antidepressants have been linked to causing suicides in kids.

ABC News June 7, 2004

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