Pharmaceutical medications are not a nourishing or healing approach for children with mental health symptoms. Medications are greatly overused to treat mental health symptoms of small children. Putting a small, young, still developing child on medications for mental health has become customary practice. There are numerous issues with putting a young child on a pharmaceutical medication. The safety, efficacy, side effects and long-term effects are often unknown. Parents need to be aware that there are safer and more effective solutions. The psychiatric needs of children can be treated with alternative, nourishing, reparative, and effective methods. Our young children deserve alternative, holistic and natural healing to be more accepted in the mental health community.
Dr. James Neubrander M.D. stated, “No human body is deficient in a drug. Humans are deficient in nutrients.” This is such a great point and we need to remember that our children’s bodies need nourishment to overcome obstacles. He also stated, “A child that has a mother who believes in nutritional therapies can be lifechanging.” We need to remember that our struggling children are deficient in nutrients and a medication doesn’t fix the deficiency, it makes it worse. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola D.O, healthcare equals sickness care in modern medicine. He feels we need to spend our money on good health instead of illness. This is a great logical plan that parents should follow. Helping our children achieve true wellness is more important than sitting back and waiting for them to develop more symptoms and illness’s. Preventative care is extremely important. We need to give our children healthcare and not sick care because there is a huge and clear difference. Children need to develop a natural immune system to keep all body systems working properly and productively. A natural strong immune system is what our children need to stay healthy and to prevent severe symptomology in mental health. Children who start off at an early age with poor nutrition, will have mitochondria cells that are not getting enough energy needed to grow and function properly. The mitochondria, the power house of the cell, need energy to work properly. Many of our children with damaging mental health symptoms are not getting the energy they need at the cellular level on their bodies. Medication management does not provide the body with energy and doesn’t heal a child at the cellular level.
The most alarming concern with medication management for mental health is the lack of unbiased and lengthy research studies. Many medications are not tested on children. Safety, efficacy and the true need for certain medications have not been scientifically supported. It’s crucial to look at the most accurate scientific data on medications that are not influenced by drug companies, large agencies or individuals with patents on certain medications.
Unfortunately, many parents will take their children to medical appointments before they will spend time cooking their child a healthy meal or playing with them in the backyard. Parents have the power to help their children and parents need to start channeling that power in more effective ways. Parents are spending too much time on the wrong things that are not benefiting their child. A small child does not need to spend more time at therapy or medication appointments than the time they spend nourishing their bodies. The goal for mental health services should be to decrease services over time, not to increase services. Children need to spend most of their time with their parents learning and developing. A child labeled with ADHD, Anxiety disorders and Depression is the new normal. The new normal for children is to be abnormal and is doesn’t make any sense. We are taking normal children and turning them into abnormal children with a mental health diagnosis. Parents need to stop labeling, stop making excuses, stop ignoring behaviors they think they can’t control. Children need their parents to be there strongest advocate for their health. Children need their parents to find effective methods that will help them succeed, recover and be nourished. Children need their parents to fight for them, challenge doctors for more information, and research more carefully.
Many traditional mental health workers will focus on getting kids to recognize emotions, anger triggers and self-regulating moods. Parents will then buy into this focus and are led to believe that medications assist the child in the behavior regulating process. I have heard many parents say things to their adolescent children about how and when to use the medication. Many kids don’t want to use the medication consistently because they don’t like how they feel why taking it. I have heard parents say, “If you think you are going to be in a situation where you can’t control your emotions, take your medication.” Children are being taught that they need medication in certain situations and they should depend on the medication to help them. This is very unfortunate. The pharmaceutical medication may: give your child “brain fog”, slow down their motor movements, make them less social or even lower their heart rate. A child’s hyperactivity, problem solving skills, and overall ability to regulate moods will not be repaired by the medication.
Hormones and neurotransmitters are regulated in the gut so, disrupting neuropathways in the brain with a medication to control behaviors doesn’t make sense. A child with hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances has an unhealthy gut. Focusing on gut repair is more important than focusing on the brain. The medication will shut off pathways in the brain and will seem to be effective but then, your child will always need the medication. When your child focuses on a medication to regulate their mood or behaviors the issue if often viewed as singular. That singular issue is, “Something is wrong in my brain. I can’t control my brain.” The medication does not address the gut or systemic dysfunctions causing your child distress. Medication use for children has become the treatment of choice for long term issues. This is a hideous norm that is sad, frustrating and anger provoking. An effective solution would be avoiding medication, focusing on gut repair, supporting the gut microbiome, supporting bile production in the gall bladder, increasing cellular energy, and focusing on whole body health. We should not sign our children up for long term crutches that are not nourishing to their growing bodies.
ADHD has been on a rising trend with each passing year and is now an epidemic. The diagnosis has spiraled out of control. It has been documented, that ADHD is the leading childhood diagnosis in the world followed by other neurological disorders at epidemic proportions. According to Dr. Kenneth Bock M.D., about 2 million children took a drug called Ritalin in the year 1993. He stated that just two years later, that number doubled to 4 million. Between 1990 and 1998 the drug called Ritalin increased in usage by 800 percent and has been shockingly prescribed to children before they even attend kindergarten. In the year 2009, the special education system saw a substantial increase of children with Tourette’s syndrome. Today, about 1 in 25 children are now being diagnosed with Autism. The numbers are projected to grow and not decrease. This increase has risen with the increase of medication management of children. Research is clear that the increase of psychiatric medications has not improved the epidemic of childhood mental health disorders. The epidemics are getting worse.
Adding on medications often snow balls. New medications are often added to manage new symptoms that may arise or to manage sleep disturbances. Child development is a journey. Learning is a process. No child is perfect. No child should be expected to be perfect. Gaining a mental health diagnosis for your child should not be a starting point of mental health care and putting your child on a psychiatric medication should not be a starting point of mental health care either.
It is time to stop labeling and medicating our children in large volumes. There is a lengthy list of treatment options that should be considered and exhausted as a first step. Dr. Johnathan Prousky stated that, the current mental health care system is abysmal. He said that people are cultured to believe that they need drugs. Drugs are only disabling brain processes to shut off symptoms. Dr. Prousky stated that children on multiple psychiatric medications is inhumane. I completely agree that we are not always treating our children in the most ethical, humane and nurturing ways possible. Many parents feel stuck and don’t know where to turn when their child is suffering. It’s unfortunate that the information a parent needs is not readily available. Sustainable results come when we nourish the body. Psychiatric medications are not nourishing for a child therefore they do not produce sustainable results.
It’s well known in the holistic based community that children with neurological disorders have systemic neurological imbalances that involve their entire body. Issues are systemic in the body and are caused by a multitude of reasons. When a child goes to see a professional for medication management the entire system of causes is not usually explored. The symptoms a child is experiencing is treated in isolation by a medication. Sadly, former families I have worked with would tell me repeatedly that they didn’t want their child to be on medication but would fill the prescriptions when the doctor recommended a trial medication. The trails usually didn’t end, and medications would be tried out like they were outfits. If one medication caused problems for the child, a new one would be recommended. Why? Why are we so caught up in society about finding medications to stop symptoms instead of finding the cause and preventing the issues? Moms often tell me that they hate their child being on a medication but, they felt trapped. They felt like there was no other solution and they trusted their doctors would not give their child anything harmful. Many parents are feeling trapped, frustrated and they don’t know where to turn. The medical philosophies of, “First, do no harm” have become a huge ethical dilemma in my opinion. So many of these professionals prescribing medication to children don’t not know the adverse effects of the medication, they don’t know all the ingredients, they don’t know about the safety studies and they don’t give patients true informed consent. A true informed consent would give parents information on the safety risks, the population used in testing and effects on the entire body. Most parents don’t know the ingredients or the safety concerns of the medication their child is taking. It’s very scary that parents are not aware of what they are putting into their child’s body and what they are allowing to happen in our managed care system.
In a true informed consent, patients need to be told about all the options. Patients need to be informed of benefits and risks of a treatment. A patient should be able to choose the best treatment for them based on all the information presented. The patient should be making to final decision without feeling pressured into the treatment. There is something terribly wrong when a doctor doesn’t tell a patient about alternative treatment methods to medication. Something is terribly wrong when a doctor doesn’t share the dangers of a medication on the entire body. All adverse effects of a medication are often unknown.
Our child’s brain and gut can improve with holistic and natural methods. A child’s body does not need a pharmaceutical medication to decrease anxiety, hyperactivity, inattentiveness, anger or mood swings. The pharmaceutical industry and professionals who prescribe psychiatric medications to young children have traded manageable childhood struggles for an epidemic of unhealthy children with a multitude of autoimmune disorders. In too many cases, the mental health care system that collaborates with medicine management providers are making the problems worse and not better. Finding the source of the issues in the body and finding out what systems need strengthening seems like a better choice. Why wouldn’t a parent or a doctor want to find out all the reasons a child is struggling with difficult symptoms? A mental health diagnosis does not diagnosis “root cause” so, the medications prescribed for a diagnosis are ultimately not fixing the root cause.
Author: Dr. Elizabeth Ward, Ph.D., LCPC