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Psychotropic drugs

Psychotropic Drug Prescriptions to Children Skyrocket 400 Percent in Ten Years

Friday, December 07, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: psychotropic drugs, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Prescriptions of psychiatric drugs in the United Kingdom to children under the age of 16 have more than quadrupled since the mid-1990s, according to figures recorded by the government. In the mid-'90s, general practitioners wrote 146,000 such prescriptions, while in the most recent fiscal year they wrote 613,000.

In the same time period, however, data indicate that there has been no corresponding increase in the prevalence of mental health disorders among children. According to the British Office of National Statistics, approximately one in 10 children were diagnosed with some kind of mental disorder, whether major or minor, in surveys conducted in 1999 and 2004.

The release of the data has sparked criticism that doctors are too quick to prescribe psychotropic drugs.

"I think it is a major concern that drugs seem to be prescribed so easily these days to children of school age," said David Laws, the member of Parliament who requested the data from the government. "In the past, not only were there not as many of these types of drugs on the market, there was an assumption, I think, that people would try to get to the source of the problem, rather than simply prescribing drugs."

Mayur Lakhani, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, disagreed. "[Doctors] consider the need for anti-depressants only after a careful assessment of the patient's clinical condition," he said.

According to Marjorie Wallace of the mental health charity Sane, the problem is not with the drugs, but with the underuse of alternative treatments.

"While in some cases there may be a need for medication as part of a treatment plan, drugs should not be seen as the only solution," Wallace said. "Children's mental health problems need to be tackled at the root by making therapy more widely available, by examining the causes and by encouraging better awareness amongst children themselves, parents, teachers and [general practitioners]."

Anti-depressant use has hit an all-time high in the UK, with 31 million prescriptions written in 2006 -- 6 percent more than in the previous year.

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