One Million Kids on Anti-Psychotics

In July, the Washington Post reported that Corporate America is hoarding a record $1.8 trillion in cash while it waits for profit-making opportunities. At the same time, record numbers of American children are being prescribed toxic psychiatric drugs at earlier ages. These two facts are connected.

The corporate class stole its trillions from us, by exploiting workers at home and abroad – paying us less than our labor is worth – and by laying off workers and squeezing the rest to work a lot harder for much less.

They also steal from our children.

Exploitation and deprivation cause parents to be distressed, depressed, angry, anxious and overwhelmed. An estimated 15 million American children (one in five) live with an adult who suffered a major depression in the previous year. Children respond to parental distress with symptoms and behaviors. The greater the parent’s distress, the greater the child’s distress.

Instead of using some of the corporate treasury to invest in families, distressed children are being labeled with mental disorders and drugged into submission. These children are being robbed of their health and the hope of any real improvement in their lives.

For several decades, researchers like Peter and Ginger Breggin have documented the shocking extent to which American children are being drugged with stimulants and anti-depressants.

Now, thanks to the power of drug-company marketing, distressed children are being drugged with powerful anti-psychotics. In adults, these toxic compounds increase the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, suicide, seizures, infection, kidney failure, nervous-system damage and sudden death. The effects on children are unknown.

Last September, an FDA report found that the number of anti-psychotic prescriptions dispensed to children (0-17 years) had risen 22 percent over the previous five years.

The FDA examined six anti-psychotic drugs: Seroquel® (quetiapine); Zyprexa® (olanzapine); Risperdal® (risperidone); Abilify® (aripiprazole); Geodon® (ziprasidone); and Invega® (paliperidone).

In 2008, of the 32 million prescriptions dispensed for these drugs, 4.8 million were dispensed to children (15 percent of the total).

That same year, one million individual children were prescribed these anti-psychotics (19 percent of the total of 5.5 million individuals). Here are the numbers, by age group:

1,770 children aged 0-2
64,664 children aged 3-6
414,451 children aged 7-12
540,760 children aged 13-17

Diagnoses applied to the infants and toddlers (aged 0-2) included: Attention Deficit Disorder; Mental/Behavior Problems, Behavioral
Problems; Other Emotional Disturbances, and Residual Schizophrenia, a diagnosis that can be made on the basis of “odd beliefs and unusual perceptual experiences.”

A more accurate diagnosis for these children’s symptoms and behaviors would be “Parental Distress due to Heartless Social Policies.”   A recent report from the Urban Institute found that 7 percent of all 9-month-old infants live with severely depressed mothers, and 41 percent of 9-month-old infants live with mothers who suffer some form of depression. These rates are higher among mothers living in poverty, who are also more likely to suffer domestic violence.

Only a sick social system would enrich the few by stealing the present lives and future hopes of the many.

Susan Rosenthal is a life-long socialist, retired physician, union member, and the author of POWER and Powerlessness (2006). Sick and Sicker: Essays on Class, Health and Health Care (2010), and Rebel Minds: Class War, Mass Suffering, and the Urgent Need for Socialism (2019). She can be reached at: Read other articles by Susan.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. DannyHaszard said on September 25th, 2010 at 8:15am #

    Zyprexa,as well as the other atypical antipsychotics, are being prescribed for children, even though this is an unapproved, off-label use.
    A report by Dr. Cooper at Vanderbilt University states that 2.5 million children are now taking atypical antipsychotics. Over half are being given them for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Perhaps it is statistics like these that caused the FDA to finally require warnings on the labels of the ADHD drugs.
    The use of atypical antipsychotics for children should be banned.

    Weight gain, increases in triglyceride levels and associated risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
    The average weight gain (adults) over the 12 week study period was the highest for Zyprexa—17 pounds. You’d be hard pressed to gain that kind of weight sport-eating your way through the holidays
    Psychotropic meds are indicated for true clinical conditions.
    Zyprexa was pushed by Lilly Drug Reps.
    They called it the “Five at Five” (5 mg at 5 pm to keep nursing home patients subdued and sleepy) and “VIVA ZYPREXA” (Zyprexa for everybody) campaigns to off label market Eli Lilly Zyprexa as a fix for unapproved usage
    If a drug (Zyprexa) lists anything about the pancreas among the side effects, it probably means it can cause diabetes.
    Unlike your liver, the pancreas does not regenerate itself. If it gets damaged, diabetes is very likely.
    Daniel Haszard Zyprexa whistle-blower

  2. Unga_Khan said on September 25th, 2010 at 4:23pm #

    Sue Rosenthal’s articles are usually misinformed, wannabe-yellow journalistic crap, but she’s on the mark here. Antipsychotics (particularly the atypicals) are some of the fastest rising prescriptions in children, despite many of them being given off-label. These drugs can really screw a person up, particularly if you’ve been misdiagnosed, and are also difficult to stop, and so need to be used with utmost caution during childrens’ formative physical and social developmental years.

  3. Don Hawkins said on September 25th, 2010 at 4:52pm #

    These drugs can really screw a person up, particularly if you’ve been misdiagnosed. Read this and maybe prozac or would Lithium be a better choice. How the hell can there be such a thing as misdiagnosed where in a mad world only the mad are sane. Did I misdiagnose that?

    The Old Coffee Shop

    The Coffee shop this day in 2020 was full mid summer in New York City El Nino had made a come back again and the temperature this day was hot and the people already knew how to dress light and travel fast. Some of the people were only 10 years old when it happened in the year 2012 a rather large CME from our Sun and let’s just say cell phones were not what they used to be. When it started nobody really knew but a new way of thinking had started most of the people in the coffee shop were members of a new party in the greatest nation on Earth called the 2020 party that started just after the big light in old 2012. Through out the City the government had placed noise generators called by some peace makers and some had other names for them. The talk this morning was about the Capitalists yes they were still around who do you think built the noise generators and most in the coffee shop were talking about the day’s activates for the day ahead to change the hearts and minds of the Capitalists at least the ones who still lived in the city as a few of the Capitalists had moved to secure locations outside the city. Some word did get out about the workings of these secure locations and a person named Glenn Beck it was told was the new preacher at these secure locations and everyone there it was told had a copy of the constitution and a new book written by Beck with a snake on the front cover. It was said some infighting from the Capitalists but the truth still hard to get. Well as the activates for the day ahead were being planed one of those peace makers pulled up in front of the old coffee shop along with these dark very dark trucks and these men in black entered the coffee shop and the man in front with these agent Smith glasses yelled papers do you have your papers? It was already known this was going to happen and most had there papers an old man siting in the corner with his own glasses he found many years ago in a dumpster that kind of gave him a new look at the World was asked for his papers. Well the old man said but a few words kiss my ass. He was put into one of those dark truck’s for reeducation I guess and they all headed to find other members of the 2020 party. This isn’t the first time the men in black had come to the coffee shop and the planning went on. A little get together this day had been planned for Wall Street and the media outlets the official word still for the Capitalists. Somebody put on an old tune and then someone said let the games began.


  4. Don Hawkins said on September 25th, 2010 at 5:49pm #

    A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

    Did Einstein misdiagnose that because I’ve done a little research into this on my own and to me what he wrote is sort of the theory of relativity for the human race. Now a solder or a child a father a mother an average citizen beaten down by the system would any Doctor of the mind tell them that probably not. How about the people who are thought of as being sane would that be our so called leaders in there many shapes and sizes either high on the hill or the top floor of a corporation or maybe high in Hollywood if they came into the office of a mind doctor you know just for a check-up would they be told what Einstein wrote and if so what would be there reaction? Maybe hay Doc you seemed to have changed you know my drug of choice is it about the money need any help with that new book I’ll make a couple of call’s. You know that part the true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self I may use that in one of my next campaign speeches or movie or my traders sitting in front of a computer a few floors below on second thought maybe not. Oh times up I’ll see you a month have a wonderful day.

  5. Don Hawkins said on September 25th, 2010 at 6:29pm #

    Well I get up early like about 4 am and am going to get some rest now and do I take sleeping pill’s well no but at 61 still smokin and I worked today outside in the hottest summer Georgia has seen and I will sleep just fine, oh and do I sleep on a gold couch again no and I still drink milk from the carton Ha Ha Ha Ha. Prozac or would Lithium be a better choice.

  6. Don Hawkins said on September 26th, 2010 at 4:05am #

    These drugs can really screw a person up, particularly if you’ve been misdiagnosed, and are also difficult to stop, and so need to be used with utmost caution during childrens’ formative physical and social developmental years. Khan

    If you watch Beck on Fox the fair and balanced Channel he talked some on what kid’s should learn and Texas seems to have some ideas from a few on what kid’s should or should not learn those darn book’s again. Let’s see Texas here’s one that should go into the book’s.

    Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on. Vonnegut

    Let’s see Beck seems to have no problem telling people what they should think what would be a good one for him and the people at Fox New’s who kind of have an agenda they call fair and balanced.

    Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas. Vonnegut

    Heck let’s get into this whole fair and balanced part maybe we could take this one on Fox New’s, CNN,the media in general.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
    — Carl Sagan

    When the new patient was settled comfortably on the couch, the physiatrist began his therapy session, “I’m not aware of your problem,” the doctor said. “So perhaps, you should start at the very beginning.”
    “Of course.” replied the patient. “In the beginning, I created the Heavens and the Earth…”

  7. franco_american1962 said on September 26th, 2010 at 11:35am #

    As our culture’s social engineer, the mental health enterprise (and what an enterprise it is) has made its principal mission of transforming moral issues into health issues, with the respective “treatment”. In effect, the paradigmatic approach is one of altering the individual, thereby altering the social. Such an “therapeutic” approach ultimately leaves many of the social, economic, and political questions unanswered, and makes for continued profits and professional prestige. But it must be asked: cui bono?

  8. Unga_Khan said on September 26th, 2010 at 2:07pm #

    Don Hawkins wrote: “Read this and maybe prozac or would Lithium be a better choice. How the hell can there be such a thing as misdiagnosed where in a mad world only the mad are sane. Did I misdiagnose that?”

    Prozac and lithium are not antipsychotics. Prozac is an antidepressant and lithium is a mood-stabilizer that can also be used as an anti-depressant in some situations. However, they could be useful as adjunct therapies in psychotic patients who also suffer mood disorders.

    While I agree that psychiatric patients are over-medicated and that behavioral modifications and one-on-one and group therapy are the most ideal ways of treating disorders, to say psychiatry is just transforming moral issues into health issues is ridiculous. Conditions like unipolar depression, bipolar depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse, PTSD, and anxiety cause real subjective and objective suffering for the affected patient- the only morality involved is that medicine has a responsibility to alleviate suffering. These problems can be seen in cultures around the world, and although they are explained in different ways, it is evidence that these pathologies will occur no matter what cultural or moral system is in place. Diagnoses serve as an expression of our understanding of the pathologies of the different types of mental anguish, and are very useful in guiding choices of therapy. That’s not to say that they can be applied with cookie cutter style generality- care has to be individualized to the patient, that is one of the basic tenets of medicine.

  9. Don Hawkins said on September 26th, 2010 at 4:59pm #

    We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

    1954 and just on the off chance he was correct how are we doing?

  10. Don Hawkins said on September 27th, 2010 at 2:48am #

    Khan an interesting response to my comment let’s dig deeper Chris Matthews on MSNBC I think just after mission accomplished said on his show something like people are getting in to philosophy to explain this war what we are now seeing come on that’s not how the World work’s. Oh really well most of the people I talk with know something is up and let’s just take one thing climate change. Granted it is somewhat slow not right in our face yet but will mean the end of human civilization as a start and much of life on Earth. Jon Stewart the other night said ok damn it we are just people we will do what we have to if given the chance. James Hansen who is not only a good man and rather sharp but a philosopher has told us how to begin to solve the problems we face. His plan that does make everything as simple as possible but not simpler seems to be the best kept secret of all time along with climate change itself although I’d say that’s about 50/50 now. Why is this well somebody or something is in control is it the system or maybe a few human’s or both. Now’s here’s where I must say climate change is real and happening faster than first thought a nobrainer anymore and yet because of a few human’s who have an addiction called money and power are stopping any progress on trying to save life on this planet. That is one hell of a vision and so far they are getting away with it. These few when you see them on TV not all but some do they seem like philosopher’s well Obama try’s a little and Bill Clinton with the hand over his heart I guess that is what he think’s he is doing and Plato they are not. In a mad world only the mad are sane in old twenty ten with known knowledge is in our face and in living color. Why not try and if so when do you think we should get started?

  11. Don Hawkins said on September 27th, 2010 at 4:35am #

    What we are seeing now is called short term thinking and yes not uncommon in history. How did it work out for other civilizations in the past not well. This time for humans who have not been on this planet all that long to stay on this path probably no second chance. If we wait until it is in our face to late and sure a few think well after a few billion go to the happy hunting ground problem solved sorry doesn’t work that way. If we can overcome instinct with reason we still have a chance and as we see so far it is the other way around. This is a tuff one!

    The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 27th, 2010 at 5:45am #

    Einstein’s wise, and, I would say, self-evident truths illustrate just why he was a socialist. The ability to empathise with others, to not be indifferent to their fate, and to share their joys and sorrows, has always been seen by religions and philosophies as amongst the highest manifestations of morality and humanity.
    On the other hand, to see other human beings, other animals and the natural world, as totally ‘other’ and alien, and hence fearful and hostile, is the mark of the little man, the scared, alienated and aggressive outsider whose ego refuses to allow itself to be subsumed by existence. This type is the bedrock of what we euphemistically call ‘the Right’ and of the business caste and their flunkies. They hate and fear everything outside their own ego, because the notion of a surrender to the rest of the cosmos so fearfully reminds them of their mortality,of how brief and tenuous is their span on earth.They pile up loot, insatiably, stolen from other people and the natural world, as a sort of existential security blanket to protect themselves from the horrors of death and decay. This necessity is, of course, open-ended and unslakeable, hence the ever growing greed of the kleptocrats.
    The essential antipathy of this type to others is nowhere more poignantly destructive than in their assaults on children.Not only do they drug them, or sexually exploit them,or kill them for their organs,or spray them with white phosphorus,or depleted uranium, but they also pollute their minds and souls with violent ‘entertainment’, pornography carelessly made accessible and the psychological child abuse of manipulative advertising. Children have been prematurely and destructively sexualised by the amoral advertising seducers, just to have them become a new ‘demographic’ to keep those lovely profits rolling in. And, cap in hand with the advertising molesters are the dietary and physiological abusers who peddle the addictive poison of junk food. These drug pushers, unlike those who supply cocaine or ecstasy, but like those tempting us with alcohol and tobacco, are not punished for their crimes, but richly rewarded and advantaged by the politicians that they buy and sell with their political contributions. All in all, in a capitalist pathocracy, child abuse is ubiquitous, conscienceless and immensely profitable.

  13. bozh said on September 27th, 2010 at 7:07am #

    A few words about THE THINKING that needs changing. It seems, it cannot ever change unless we also change ‘our’ teachers! And who they may be today or were millennia ago?
    ‘Our’ means: danger! It wld be better to say “their” teachers! Or our misteachers!
    Don, simple! No? Yes? Can it be said simpler?
    Now that we are in simplicities, we can note that all MSM columnists, who dwell slolely on starry ‘stars’ [cults and cultishness] and never on structures [only which elucidate us], all their teachers, all clergy, pols, misteach us, but of course, never for free.
    All of them make good wages as long as they teach what masters of war and people order them to ‘teach’.

    It is important to espy that all of these people ‘teach’ and not just school teachers.

    And such enorm powers can be confronted or even defeated only by an antipodal power.
    As far as i know, this is the only way out of our serfdom. Some euro lands prove it. There is nothing there like what we have in US: utter mastery over at least 9o% of americans by clerico-media-politico-plutocratic people!
    It cannot ever change by self. tnx

  14. franco_american1962 said on September 27th, 2010 at 10:59am #

    What has not been sucked into the orbit of psychiatrization in our culture? I feel that psychiatry has led itself down a path of moral and ethical bankrupcy, all in the name of “therapy”. There isn’t anything that escapes the scutiny of a thoroughgoing medicalization of everyday life. The debauchment of language, and the continued excuses of the psychiatric enterprise, and it allied fields, has been vouchsafed by public, politician, and the various left-leaning, do-gooder media. The manufacture and promotion of the myth of mental illness, somehow lurking in every individual, has, thus far made good therapeutic sense and paid handsome dividends.