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Dosed : The Medication Generation Grows Up
Over the last two decades, we have seen a dramatic spike in the number of young people taking psychiatric medication--but, despite a heated debate on the issue, we haven't heard directly from the ""medicated kids"" themselves. InDosed, Kaitlin Bell Barnett, who was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, weaves together stories from members of this ""medication generation, exploring their experiences at home, in school, and with the psychiatric profession. For many, taking meds has proved more complicated than merely popping a pill, as they try to parse their changing emotions, symptoms, side effects, and diagnoses without conclusive scientific research on how the drugs affect developing brains and bodies. While negotiating schoolwork, relationships, and the workplace, they also struggle to find the right drug, deal with breakdowns, decide whether they still need treatment at all--and, ultimately, make sense of their long-term relationship to psychotropic drugs. The results of what one psychopharmacologist describes as a ""giant, uncontrolled experiment"" are just starting to trickle in.
Call them Generation M-for medicated. In this sometimes disturbing and often heartbreaking debut, journalist and blogger (PsychCentral.com) Barnett chronicles her own rocky road to adulthood and that of five of her peers-all medicated since childhood for diagnoses ranging from attention deficit disorder to depression. Rather than enter debates about medicated children, Barnett focuses on the experiences of the young people themselves, their rebellions, breakdowns, and battle with side effects. By 1996, nearly a million American children were taking psychotropic drugs-triple the number nine years earlier. Nonjudgmental and well-versed in the medical literature, Barnett laces her profiles with the history of our understanding of childhood mental illness and its treatment. Among those profiled is Claire, who at age 11, worried about the pointlessness of life, became emotionally volatile; she willingly started taking an antidepressant; 20 years later she still accepts her need for medication. On the other hand, Paul, who acted out aggressively while spending his youth unhappily in foster homes, was put on Ritalin at age five, and as an adult he saw his medication as the wrong treatment for behavior stemming from a troubled childhood. Cogent and thoughtful, Barnett argues that we need a great deal more research on the long-term impact of psychotropic medications on children's mental and physical health, but also on their self-perception. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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April 10, 2012
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