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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Friday, September 27, 2002

    The Prozac Nation Goes to College: College counselors have noticed an alarming increase in the number of students on psychoactive drugs:

    Antidepressant prescriptions to children increased three- to five-fold between 1988 and 1994, with the steepest increases among students ages 15 to 19, said Dr. Julie Magno Zito, associate professor of pharmacy and medicine at the University of Maryland.

    Nationwide, mental health services in large colleges report that 1 to 60 percent of their clients are using psychoactive medications, said Gregory Snodgrass, president of the Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors.

    It isn’t that kids are crazier today, as one counselor at Bennington College pointed out:

    ''I haven't seen sicker students,'' Carter said. ''I've seen students labeled as sicker.”

    Exactly. This is the blowback from all those aggressive public health campaigns that tout the importance of mental health care. Although there are some serious mental health problems that require and deserve attention, there are also a lot of more mundane emotional problems that are nothing more than a part of the human condition. Many begin to believe that every little problem requires professional intervention and that a pill is the answer to everything. Child acting up in school? Forget about addressing problems at home, or taking responsibility for disciplining them, just push for Ritalin. Have a moody teenager? Get them as perky as Gidget with Prozac. It’s not unusual for a parent to end a long litany of behavior complaints about their child and then sum it all up by looking pointedly at me and saying, “Something has got to be done.” Our modern psychiatric pharmacopoeia has made it too easy for parents and children to escape their own responsibilities. And, as the counselors point out, medicating children and adolescents so freely deprives them of finding their own inner strengths:

    Steeped in the tradition of psychotherapy, the health counselors said that some students may avoid fully experiencing the emotional milestones of young adulthood: the first great romantic disappointment, separation from family, and churning identity questions. Adolescents who don't learn coping skills could run into worse challenges later, they warn.

    Indeed they could.

    posted by Sydney on 9/27/2002 06:03:00 AM 0 comments


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