Psychotropic Drugs Effect on American Children

Subject: Psychiatry
Pages: 4
Words: 874
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


The field of psychiatry is quite complicated since there are no outlines laboratory tests that professionals can use to diagnose mental conditions. This gap explains why it usually impossible for practitioners to identify the possible cause of a specific psychological problem and the best initiatives to treat it. The purpose of this argumentative paper is to explain how and why American children are overmedicated by psychotropic drugs.

Thesis Statement

The high number of illegal marketers of medicines, ineffective diagnostic methods, incompetent psychiatrists, overgeneralization, and pressure from parents explain why many American children have become overmedicated by psychotropic drugs.

Main body

The gains recorded in mental health have made it possible for social workers, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists to provide evidence-based services to their respective patients. A study conducted by Lee, Walker, and Bishop (2016) indicated that the number of children between 7 and 18 years receiving medications for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had increased significantly since 2002. This development is attributable to the initiatives the United States has implemented to improve the quality and speed of mental care available to children. Unfortunately, several factors explain why most of these beneficiaries of such services have become overmedicated.

The first one is that most psychiatrists lack adequate knowledge or time to conduct proper diagnoses for mental conditions. They tend to standardize their approaches for identifying potential mental conditions that many children suffer from (Lee et al., 2016). This malpractice has resulted in a scenario where such practitioners prescribe specific psychotropic drugs without relying heavily on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The erroneous nature of these analytical methods makes it impossible for children to get high-quality services and the right drugs.

The second problem or causal factor revolves around the role of guardians and parents. These individuals will require doctors to provide the best, timely, and appropriate method that can deliver positive results (Anderson, Chen, Perrin, & Van Cleave, 2015). This means that many professionals rely heavily on the information and pressure from such stakeholders. This behavior results in a situation whereby practitioners prescribe drugs without knowing the exact mental illness.

The third argument that supports the idea that American children are overmedicated by psychotropic drugs is that the failure of medical professionals to provide exemplary and high-quality services. For instance, Lloyd (2015) indicates that some psychiatrists prefer prescribing medications instead of embracing the power of psychotherapy. The reason why they ignore or avoid this evidence-based health practice is that it is labor-intensive and required a lot of time. Consequently, many underage children will receive different psychotropic drugs instead of going through psychoanalysis. This means that many professionals embrace the use of drugs when therapies can deliver positive results.

The fourth explanation is that there are pharmaceutical companies marketing illegal or unlabeled drugs in the United States. This misbehavior has catalyzed the current misuse and overuse of such substances. In his study, Ninan, Stewart, Theall, Katuwapitiya, and Kam (2014) observed that over 7.5 percent of children between 6 and 17 years were taking medication for either behavioral or emotional difficulties. Most of such individuals were getting the wrong drugs or for prolonged durations.

Finally, many professionals appear to make ADHD the catchall diagnosis for children who might exhibit abnormal conditions. Other conditions will, therefore, be ignored, including bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, dementia, and depression. Lloyd (2015) acknowledges that 20 percent of American children are usually misdiagnosed when it comes to mental conditions. This means that such young individuals will be forced to take different drugs for ADHD, such as Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin (Anderson et al., 2015). The end result is that such children record delayed growth patterns, stroke, heart attacks, and seizures.


Some researchers and stakeholders believe that American children are not facing the problem of overmedication by psychotic drugs. For instance, Myhrene, Wilde-Larsson, Hartz, & Nordström (2015) argue that the outstanding challenge this country faces is not that more children overdose but the fact that such patients lack adequate mental health services. Other analysts indicate that America’s health systems and programs create the best opportunity for meeting the needs of children with similar conditions (Lloyd, 2015). Some researchers also encourage stakeholders to undertake more studies to have a clear understanding of this issue (Ninan et al., 2014). From this description, it is evident that various groups fail to acknowledge that more children suffer from overmedication by psychotic drugs.


While the above counterarguments might appear valid, the truth is that the number of children overmedicated by psychotropic drugs has been on the rise. The leading factors to this problem are undeniable and make it impossible for many children to lead high-quality lives (Myhrene et al., 2015). A multilevel study focusing on all aspects of this predicament will, therefore, deliver powerful ideas for mitigating this problem of psychotic drug abuse.


The completed discussion has revealed that many American children are currently overmedicated by psychotropic drugs due to parents’ pressure, ineffective diagnostic methods, inability to apply and use DSM appropriately, and incompetence. Unfortunately, some experts are still against this kind of reality in the United States. Acknowledging that children are overmedicated by psychotropic drugs is the first step towards empowering policymakers and professionals to examine this problem from an informed perspective.


Anderson, L. E., Chen, M. L., Perrin, J. M., & Van Cleave, J. (2015). Outpatient visits and medication prescribing for US children with mental health conditions. Pediatrics, 136(5), e1179-e1185. Web.

Lee, T. G., Walker, S. C., & Bishop, A. S. (2016). The impact of psychiatric practice guidelines on medication costs and youth aggression in a juvenile justice residential treatment program. Psychiatric Services, 67(2), 214-220. Web.

Lloyd, T. (2015). A different perspective on why prescriptions of ADHD drugs have soared. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 295(7884). Web.

Myhrene, A. K., Wilde-Larsson, B., Hartz, I., & Nordström, G. (2015). Experience of psychotropic drug use among young people with mental health problems. Nordic Journal of Nursing Research, 35(4), 241-248. Web.

Ninan, A., Stewart, S. L., Theall, L. A., Katuwapitiya, S., & Kam, C. (2014). Adverse effects of psychotropic medications in children: Predictive factors. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 23(3), 218-225.