I have recently published my most comprehensive scientific article describing the hazards of prescribing psychiatric drugs to children, youth, and young adults.
In the article, I have called for a prohibition on giving neurotoxic psychoactive psychiatric drugs to the most vulnerable members of society. Using stimulants and antipsychotic drugs as the primary examples, I explain and scientifically document how psychiatric drugs do far more harm than good for children.
Children and most young adults are in no position to “consent” to taking these neurotoxins. Even if mature enough to give consent, their healthcare professionals never explain how dangerous these drugs can be.
Furthermore, the brains of children and young adults are still growing, and all psychiatric drugs are neurotoxins that interfere with the normal maturation of the brain. We have no drugs to improve the functioning of the brain, only ways to harm it.
Few if any young and parents taking antidepressants have been warned that these drugs do not work in children and can permanently harm their brain function, leading to chronic apathy and permanent loss of sexual function.
On my free resource center, www.123antidepressants.com, I have provided an enormous amount of information about the damaging effects and lack of effectiveness of antidepressants, and have divided the articles in adults and children. Unfortunately, these drugs are especially toxic to people 24 years old and younger, but they do more harm than good at all ages.
I also have a free resource center about antipsychotic drugs, www.123antipsychotics.com. Like the antidepressant resource center, articles are divided between adults and children.
I do not yet have a free resource center on children, ADHD, and stimulant drugs. Therefore, I will go into that subject more deeply in the following section.
Stimulants and ADHD—A Tragic Path to Follow
Few young people or their parents have been told that short-term studies of stimulants for ADHD show they are not effective beyond a week or two during which time they suppress the individual’s spontaneous thoughts, feelings and activities.
These young people and families have not been told that long-term studies demonstrate that stimulants become a gateway to additional psychiatric drugs.
The latest scientific literature indicates that boys averaging age 7-9, given a diagnosis of mild hyperactivity in the 1970s and treated with Ritalin (methylphenidate) in small doses, have come to a tragic outcome as a group.
Compared to a control group of normal children from the same time period, they have much higher rates of early death, atrophy of the brain, suicide, psychiatric hospitalization, incarceration, and drug addiction. By almost every measure, they have reduced quality of life and a shortened life.
Ritalin, Focalin, Adderall, Dexedrine and other stimulants are in themselves damaging to the brain and to behavior. But these most devastating lifelong outcomes are the result of how stimulant drugs often lead to use of a wide variety of psychiatric medications over many years.
The children are demoralized by the diagnosis and the lies they are told about how they must suffer from disabilities in attention, concentration, self-control and motor activity for the rest of their lives. They also develop multiple adverse effects such as lethargy and apathy; depression; OCD and even psychosis in a significant number.
These drug-induced symptoms are then mistakenly treated as part of the child’s expanding mental illness. In addition, these addictive drugs change the brains of children, making them more likely to abuse other drugs, especially amphetamines, as young adults.
Instead of hope and enthusiasm for their futures, too many children now grow up believing they are inherently defective, and controlled by bad genes and biochemical imbalances. Then the neurotoxicity of the drugs make them feel that it must be true—the are defective and doomed.
SUMMARIZING THE HARMS INFLICTED ON CHILDREN BY THE ADHD DIAGNOSIS AND STIMULANT DRUGS
(1) The initial stimulant causes adverse effects such as depression, anxiety, agitation, insomnia, psychosis, and aggression, which the health professionals then fail to recognize as harmful drug effects. Often these drug effects are dismissed, overlooked or viewed as the unmasking of other mental disorders, leading to the prescription of cocktails of drugs that over the years ruin the individuals life.
(2) The drugs “work” by stifling spontaneous behavior and enforcing OCD so that the child socializes less, thinks and imagines in a more constricted fashion, and simple cannot take advantage of ordinary growth experiences because of the limits on his social and psychological capacities.
(3) The have not been shown to help academic performance, mental well-being or another other measurement of psychological or physical well-being. Instead, they have been shown to stunt physical growth.
(4) The initial diagnosis of ADHD ruins the child’s sense of personal responsibility and self-control, so that the child no longer thinks he can control himself. The most important aspect of growing up—taking responsibility for one’s thoughts, emotions and conduct—is undermined. This renders the child less able to grow up into a mature adult.
(5) The initial diagnosis of ADHD undermines parental emphasis on teaching discipline and devoting the necessary time to the child. Professionals absolve the parents of parental responsibility, so they do not take classes or get therapy to help them improving their parenting.
(6) The initial diagnosis of ADHD discourages teachers from teaching discipline to children who need attention, and so the child is robbed of learning self-discipline in the classroom.
Dr. Breggin’s Videos about Youngsters & Psychiatric Drugs
The first children’s video is # 7 in my Simple Truths series. This video describes the harmful effects and method of action of stimulant drugs. These drugs include methylphenidate and amphetamine products such as Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, Metadate, Methylin, Quillivant, Daytrana, Vyvanse, Adderall and Dexedrine.
The second video about children is # 8 in the Simple Truths series. This video describes the negative effects of diagnosing children with ADHD.
The third children’s video, # 9 of Simple Truths.This video describes the horrendous outcomes of merely starting a mildly “hyperactive” child on Ritalin, including follow up studies over several decades. This video calls for concerned citizens to take a stand against giving psychiatric drugs to children. I believe it is time to set our sights on a day when children will be protected by a ban against giving them any psychoactive substances, including psychiatric drugs, which are more dangerous, damaging and demoralizing than alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes.
The video series has scientific support in my book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, which cites and summarizes some of the most recent studies on how damaged “ADHD kids” become when reaching adulthood — including increased incarceration in jails and mental hospitals, increased suicide, increased drug addiction, increased dependence on multiple psychiatric drugs, obesity, shrinkage (atrophy) of the brain, shortened lifespan, and a general reduction in quality and length of life.
In addition, my new peer-reviewed article in the journal Children & Society presents a scientific and ethical overview of the harm done to children by stimulants and by antipsychotic drugs, such as Abilify, Seroquel, Risperdal, Invega, Zyprexa, Geodon, Latuda, Saphris, Fanapt, and Symbax. It cites many scientific studies. The antipsychotic drugs are often given to children when their behavior and mental state deteriorates as a result of being given stimulants.
The drugging of children in America and increasingly throughout the world is a tragedy. Millions upon millions of children and youth will never know their full potential because they grew up with an intoxicated brain — their neurotransmitters forever deformed by being bathed in these drugs during their formative years. Additional millions will become career consumers of psychiatric drugs with a vastly reduced quality of life and shortened lives.
It is time to say, “No more of this!” and to directly confront the need for stopping this inhumane, destructive approach to our children and youth.
*Adapted from a blog by Dr. Breggin on MadinAmerica.com.
Throughout his career, Dr. Breggin has been especially concerned about the psychiatric abuse of children and the failure to provide more effective solutions through improved parenting, educational reform and community resources. As the drug companies and organized psychiatry have sought larger markets for pharmaceutical products, children have come under extensive from the psychopharmaceutical complex. The first great assault took place in the form of diagnosing children with ADHD and then medicating them with stimulant drugs. Soon millions of children were defined as mentally dysfunctional or defective and were submitted to brain-damaging psychoactive medications.
A new pattern emerged as doctors began to treat the adverse drug reactions to stimulants—including over-stimulation, insomnia, agitation, behavioral abnormalities, depression, suicidality and violence, mania and psychosis—with increased numbers of additional psychiatric drugs. They usually did this without explaining to the parents that the drugs were causing the newly developed symptoms. Nowadays, many children come to Dr. Breggin for consultations when they are taking four or five psychiatric drugs at once.
Not satisfied with this huge expansion of the drug marketplace, psychiatrists advocating on behalf of drug companies recently began to diagnose thousands of children with bipolar disorder. The purpose? To justify giving more “mood stabilizer” and “antipsychotic” drugs to children. The FDA has cooperated by approving Risperdal for some diagnostic categories in childhood.
As An overall result, millions of children are growing up with drug-intoxicated brains. They are given no hope that they can learn to control their own behavior and grow up to be effective adults—goals they will never achieve with medication-drenched brains.
At the same time, parents and teachers have become indoctrinated into believing that they cannot effectively raise or teach the children in their care and must instead resort to medical management by “experts.” This massive disenfranchisement of parents and teachers has huge consequences in terms of depriving children of the care they need and depriving parents and teachers of the opportunity to exercise their skills and authority, and to improve their approaches to individual children, families and classrooms.
Many drug-treated children will suffer from irreversible brain changes that hamper their mental life. In the case of stimulants, many will have their growth stunted and become prone to cocaine addiction in young adulthood. As a result of neuroleptics like Zyprexa, Risperdal and Abilify, many will suffer from development delays and from tardive dyskinesia with its irreversible abnormal movements that impair and stigmatize them. Dr. Breggin has evaluated dozens of children in his practice who have developed tardive dyskinesia from the newer antipsychotic drugs.
Of all the harmful actions of modern psychiatry, the mass diagnosing and drugging of children is the most appalling with the most serious consequences for the future of individual lives and for society.
All of the issues that are summarized here are discussed in more depth with scientific citations in Dr. Breggin’s two new books, Medication Madness) and Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry. Several older books deal even more extensively with improved parenting and educational approaches to children, including The Ritalin Fact Book, Talking Back to Ritalin, and Reclaiming Our Children.
The following books by Dr. Breggin contain more detailed discussions of the use of psychiatric drugs for children:
- Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal
- Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry
- Medication Madness
- The Ritalin Fact Book
- Talking Back to Ritalin
- The Antidepressant Fact Book
- Talking Back to Prozac
- Reclaiming Our Children
- The War Against Children of Color
- Toxic Psychiatry
Articles on children’s issues and psychiatric medications
- This article represents the only time that Dr. Peter Breggin has agreed to the wishes of a child and his family speak out about their therapy experience with him. See the highlighted sections toward the middle of the report.
- Best Scientific Summary of Harmful Effects of Psychiatric Drugs on Children (2014) (PDF)
- A Misdiagnosis, Anywhere (PDF)
- Confirming the hazards of stimulant drug treatment (PDF)
- A biomedical programme for urban violence control in the US (PDF)
- The psychiatric drugging of toddlers (PDF)
- What people need to know about the drug treatment of children(PDF)
- Psychostimulants in the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD (PDF)
- NIH consensus report highlights controversy surrounding ADHD diagnosis and stimulant treatment (PDF)
- The NIMH multimodal study of treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (PDF)
- What psychologists and therapists need to know about ADHD and stimulants (PDF)
- The hazards of treating ‘attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with methylphenidate (Ritalin)
- Brain development continues through teen years
- U.S. attention deficit on legal drug risks by Arianna Huffington
- ICSPP calls for a moratorium on the psychiatric drugging of children
- Children poisoning themselves with illegal psychiatric drugs
- Psychiatry makes war on “bipolar children”
- School calls child services on parents who take child off Ritalin
- Recent FDA decision highlights ethical issues in drug research on children
- Something we can all agree on: stop the drugging of children
- Breggin testifies before Congress re: Ritalin and ADHD
- Campaigns against racist federal programs by the Center for the Study of Psychiatry (1996/1996)
- The White House conference on mental health (2000)
- Peter Breggin’s Testimony on ADHD and Stimulant Drugs before the House Committee on Education (2000)