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Saturday essay: Our children's minds

| Saturday, June 10, 2006

We are doping our kids at unprecedented rates.

Use of psychotropic drugs for children and adolescents has increased fivefold between 1993 and 2002, concludes a Columbia University study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

And what a wild card this rearing through pharmacology is.

Now, there can be no doubt that many of these drugs have helped some youngsters turn around wretched and tormented early lives and allowed them to grow into productive adults.

But at what cost?

Ask just about any child and adolescent psychologist how anti-psychotic drugs originally meant for adult brains work in the brains of those far younger and they will not hesitate to tell you they don't know.

Long-term effects, mental and physical• Same answer, though there are some reports linking some of these drugs to physical ailments.

But the underlying question remains this:

Do these drugs "fix" the physical side of "mental problems" as in, say, better regulating the neurotransmitter serotonin• Or do they merely mask the problem and abandon all hope of children learning to deal with their problems and overcome them naturally -- as have many preceding generations of children?

Wrote the Roman poet and satirist Horace in "Carmina," circa 20 B.C.: "Rule your mind or it will rule you."

Will some future scribe reflect that we were out of our minds to not allow our children's minds to work out their challenges?

-- Colin McNickle

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