Do they over medicate us?

Do they over medicate us?

By Esther Peñas

“The real madhouse today are psychotropic drugs. We are in the presence of a disturbing anthropological mutation: psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies no longer limit themselves to curing the sick, they also seek to cure the healthy, ”says Cipriano.

Psychotropic drugs are chemical substances that act on the central nervous system, modifying or correcting its activity. Spain is the third country in the world that prescribes the most psychotropic drugs to children under 17 years of age, after Canada and the United States. Unicef ​​figures assure that the rates of depression and anxiety among adolescents have increased by 70% in recent years.

Diagnostics are also subject to fashion. If a few years ago almost all of us knew of a case of someone who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, today who does not know someone whose son or daughter suffers from attention deficit or hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD)? ”, Says pediatrician Dolores GM

“It is normal for a child to be restless, that it is difficult for them to focus their attention, and more so on our society, with the amount of stimuli to which they are exposed, but there are many doctors who almost default ADHD as a diagnosis, and the worst it is the medication that is prescribed in these cases ”, continues the doctor.

The most common psychoactive drug to combat ADHD is ‘Ritalin’, methylphenidate, classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency as a class II narcotic, the same as cocaine and morphine. It is an amphetamine, which, taken by an adult, would excite him but which in minors produces the opposite effect, it appeases them.

No one doubts that drugs are necessary, but are they the only solution? Most of the time, this ‘abnormal’ behavior in children and adolescents is temporary, says the doctor and, in other cases, more than pathological behaviors, “they are symptoms that point to deeper issues. Parents often look for the reasons why their child does not study, why he does not pass, etc., instead of thinking about what is happening in the family. Perhaps a process of separation has begun, or family relationships are deteriorating, and the son accuses this ‘pain’ with ‘those disorders,’ explains psychoanalyst and psychologist Carlos Ledesma.

There are more or less objective pathologies, but what happens with the states of the soul, with the state of mind, if a more prosaic formula is wanted? Everyday ailments such as sadness, melancholy, nostalgia, apathy, which occur in a timely manner or whose company is prolonged because it is associated with certain events (the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a sentimental breakup, etc.) to be suspected of being 'disease'.

“It is ridiculous to be diagnosed with depression and medicated against it when what has happened is that your wife has died. It is normal that everything loses its meaning, that you do not feel like doing anything, that you even want to die, all this is called grief, and you have to spend it, and it is reckless to prescribe psychotropic drugs when we talk about more or less reasonable depressive periods justified by a concrete cause, ”says psychiatrist Marina Ortiz.

Ledesma points out that “there are four types of psychic drugs and a lot of variants: anxiolytics, antidepressants, antipsychotics and anticonvulsants. Then there are the brands. Imagine an adult who has lost a loved one, and who suffers from sadness, depression; another person, with a different history and culture, who has lost his job and presents the same symptoms, and a third person who has had to leave his country, and who presents the same symptomatic picture. Apathy, sadness, melancholy. Psychiatry medicates them with the same drugs, but not all sadnesses are the same or require the same period of mourning ”.

The data are worrying: reports from the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products, AEMPS, reveal that the use of antidepressants in Spain has tripled in ten years.

Allen Frances directed for years the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’, DSM, the encyclopedia of mental diseases, the Bible of pathologies of the mind. In his bookAre we all mentally ill? (Ariel), assures that “pharmaceutical companies are deceiving when they make us believe that problems can be solved with pills. Psychotropic drugs are very useful in severe and persistent mental disorders, but they do not help in everyday problems. We all have mood disorders, some whose cause we know and others we do not, but that does not mean that any manifestation that alters a normal state of mind has to be treated with psychotropic drugs ”.

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