A perfect storm of interacting detrimental factors has resulted in the recent massive overuse of psychotropic medication in children.
There has been an unchecked, exponential growth in the use of psychostimulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotic drugs in kids—often harming more than helping them.
• Is there well documented research on efficacy and safety with children of the same age, gender, and social grouping?
• Are the child’s problems pervasive, occurring in a wide range of social settings and observed by many different individuals?
• Are the child’s problems severe, enduring, and impairing?
• Do the child’s parents and involved professionals see the problems as significant enough to require medication?
• Are there stresses in the child’s relationships, social context, and recent history which might explain this pattern of behaviors?
• Has a psychological or social intervention been tried prior to prescribing medication?
• Have there been any significant adverse side effects from medication?
• Have you carefully weighed short- and long-term risks and balanced them against possible benefits?
• Have you received informed consent from the parent and (where appropriate) the child?
And, perhaps the most telling question
• If a child in your immediate family or circle of friends had the same presenting problems as the child you are considering psychotropic drugs for , would you be prescribing medicine now?
4 - "I am a clinical psychologist who specializes in comprehensive evaluations of children and adolescents. I find that I am, with alarming frequency having to "un-diagnose" children who have been labeled with DSM disorders for which they do not remotely meet criteria and then are medicated based upon hasty, uniformed and frankly incompetent diagnostics. A good example is the number of children who actually meet criteria for ADHD whose emotional regulation problems are misdiagnosed as a bipolar disorder and then drugged accordingly. This is a huge disservice to our children and their families and I would add to David Traxon's list a comprehensive evaluation that looks at the child's functioning across multiple domains.
5 - A psychiatrist from Uttar Pradesh sent me a message of support saying that she had distributed it to her small team of mental health professionals and she was confident that when they use the checklist reflectively it would save their limited resources for more important priorities. Hard to top that on several counts.