Should Your 3-Year-Old Be on Antidepressants?

Try to access the website of the Archives of General Psychiatry and you may have to abide an ad for the antidepressant Pristiq before you can enter. (JAMA and its Archives Journals “do not endorse the advertised product,” you’ll be assured.)

But look for a pharma affiliation for the author of the article “Preschool Depression,” Joan L. Luby, MD in the August issue and you’ll be told no “financial disclosure” was reported. Not that “Dr. Luby has received grant/research support from Janssen, has given occasional talks sponsored by AstraZeneca, and has served as a consultant for Shire Pharmaceutical,” as a 2006 article in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says.

Even though the pharmaceutical industry has got 27 million Americans on antidepressants thanks to direct to consumer advertising–ten percent of the population–it is looking for depression in preschoolers. And guess what?

It’s finding it!


It’s easy to make jokes about “preschool depression”–students get it every time the alarm rings–but finding depression, “relapses,” “chronicity” and “treatment resistance” in three-year-olds is not funny.

Researchers used to believe that “young children were too cognitively and emotionally immature to experience depressive effects,” says Luby but now believe they can and do suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

“The potential public health importance of identification of preschool MDD is underscored by the established unique efficacy of early intervention during the preschool period in other childhood disorders,” says Luby. “Based in part on the recurrent course and the relative treatment resistance of childhood MDD, there has been increased interest in the identification of the disorder at the earliest possible stage of development.”

Translation: they want to screen your kid.

The case for a new social problem to be called preschool depression is so strong, there was only one real wrinkle in Ludy’s longitudinal study of 304 preschoolers, funded by our tax dollars at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Instead of having “anxiety disorders” usually associated other MDD sufferers, the three and four-year-olds had “disruptive disorders.” Possibly Play-Doh problems.

Undaunted, Luby says the preschoolers need to be screened for impending mental illness because their disruptive behavior “might be associated with social impairment and peer rejection that lead to later MDD.”

Of course cynics will point out that drinking milk also predicts MDD and that disruptive behavior is the definition of a preschooler, making terms like preschool “social impairment and peer rejection” laughable academic babble.

But more concerning is what, exactly, is the “treatment” and “intervention” for the at-risk preschooler who might develop depression? And why the hurry?

Is it treatment with Janssen and AstraZenca antipsychotic drugs in which case the MDD is really a Risperdal or Seroquel deficiency?

Like Rebecca Riley given Seroquel at two and dead at four?

And the late Destiny Hager who was given Seroquel at three?

Is the “intervention” like the two children the Miami Herald says Mirko and Regina Ceska of Crawfordville, FLA adopted from state foster care who were so doped up on antipsychotics the couple asked Gov. Charlie Crist if “chemical restraints” were “prerequisites” in foster care?

Only to have Crist’s head of the Department of Children and Families, George Sheldon, ask them to testify at the investigation into the death of foster care seven-year-old, Gabriel Myers, earlier this year, on similar drugs?

It is not a coincidence that 3,100 or 15.5 percent of the Florida’s 20,000 children in state care are on psychoactive drugs, legally prescribed or not, a figure that likely applies to other states.

Do you think private plans will pay $900 a month per patient for a branded blockbuster drug that may not even be necessary?

No wonder pharma sits in so many “advisory positions” on state formularies, tampering with drug decision algorithms.

In fact, Texas charged Janssen in December with defrauding the state of millions “with their sophisticated and fraudulent marketing scheme,” to “secure a spot for the drug, Risperdal, on the state’s Medicaid preferred drug list and on controversial medical protocols that determine which drugs are given to adults and children in state custody.”

In addition to giving trips, perks and kickbacks to Texas’ mental health officials, says the Dallas News, Janssen disguised marketing tools as scientific research “including ‘independent’ articles that were nothing of the kind.”

Imagine that.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. Her first book, titled Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health, has just been released by Prometheus Books. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Martha.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on August 18th, 2009 at 2:20pm #

    I always’ say calm at peace but this is not the way to do that.

    Undaunted, Luby says the preschoolers need to be screened for impending mental illness because their disruptive behavior “might be associated with social impairment and peer rejection that lead to later MDD.

    Social impairment and peer rejection these preschoolers maybe on to something. Again just cover up the problem and the problem is not the preschoolers. What is the problem well a million words could be written but how about this.

    Morpheus: I imagine that right now, you’re feeling a bit like Alice. Hmm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
    Neo: You could say that.
    Morpheus: I see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, that’s not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
    Neo: No.
    Morpheus: Why not?
    Neo: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
    Morpheus: I know *exactly* what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
    Neo: The Matrix.
    Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
    Neo: Yes.
    Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

    Neo: What truth?
    Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

    The preschoolers need to be screened for impending mental illness because their disruptive behavior might be associated with social impairment and peer rejection. Mon, Dad what is profit.

  2. brian said on August 18th, 2009 at 3:18pm #

    short answer is NO/
    You can learn why here:
    These drugs can induce suicide and homicide ideation and are linked to the mass murders we see in malls anmd universities…as well as marital problems.
    Even Michael Moore agrees:
    see the video clip of him speaking here:

  3. Annie Ladysmith said on August 18th, 2009 at 11:17pm #

    Big Pharm makes 50 billion a year on ‘mental state altering drugs’. You see we all need to have our ‘mental state’ altered because it makes them a lot of money. The children that get put on these drugs have been getting younger and younger. Newborns will be next, we don’t want depressed babies that might cry a lot do we? These drugs are so addictive that it is next to impossible to get off them without killing yourself or someone else, maybe that’s the idea?

  4. Don Hawkins said on August 19th, 2009 at 2:49am #

    Just who is it that is social impaired could it be these so called peers? To take young minds and give them these drugs so the so called peers can do what in peace, nothing. I know let’s screen Congress or Wall Street for impending disruptive behavior and forget impending the disruptive behavior seems to already be live and in color. You know the crap that these people peddle and if that’s not a mental illness I would like to know what is and disagree with them and not only you but your kid’s need to be screened for being social impaired. The disruptive behavior would be what? Don’t eat at McDonald’s or shop at Wal Mart or buy a new car or call call now or cut up your credit cards and don’t pay the balance that’s a good one. Yes listen to your leaders and watch your parking meters and never mind we your so called peers are now in control of an out of control system no never mind that we have a pill that solves all the problems. You think the talk the crap we see now coming from these so called peers is strange wait until the climate change bill and the illusion being put out over the air waves.

    Neo: What truth?
    Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

    Let’s not forget the so called peers are in the biggest prison of all the system and what it has become and it is very important to them for us to be in that prison with them I mean how could they possibly go on. Oh they could go on and might have to do a little honest work, slick.

  5. russell olausen said on August 19th, 2009 at 11:39am #

    There has been little grace in humanity for a very long time.The funding of research on society, by the taxed, to advantage the knowledge of the plutocrats has stifled the prospect of general liberty.My own placebo to this Frankenstein behavior, is in the vastness of the universe, what’s going on here is little more than a zero sum game.

  6. brian said on August 20th, 2009 at 2:42pm #


  7. Eric Blair said on August 24th, 2009 at 7:56am #

    Joan L. Luby M.D. should be charged with aiding and abetting child abuse!
    To borrow the quote from Karl Kraus defining psycho-analysis, perhaps we could say that “psychiatry IS the disease it purports to treat”

    These people never cease to amaze me, and it would not surprise me if the likes of Joan Luby (Loopy?)MD have been sampling too many of the free samples that they get from all the big Pharma Co’s.

    Luby is more dangerous than any heroin or crack addict because they just have the potential to destroy their own life and a small circle around them, whereas Luby has the potential to destroy an entire generation of innocent children and should be exposed and challenged
    at every opportunity.

    Thank you for posting this disturbing article.

  8. Mrs. Miniver said on August 26th, 2009 at 8:46am #

    Check the diet, check the poop! Are these children eating mostly PopTarts and french fries? The body AND the brain need nutritious food to thrive and survive. Adding drugs to the mix is (dare I say it?) insanity!