What are the pros and cons of using psychiatric medication with young children?

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Week 7/ Diagnosing Young Children

Catalina Villarreal(Jul 17, 2018 8:40 PM)– Read by: 2

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Hello class,

What effect might misdiagnosis’s have on children lives?

Without any test for mental health disorders, the gateway to a missed diagnosis is left to perception when the underlining problem isn’t found (CCHR, 2007). When it comes to the effects of misdiagnoses, children with mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, manic depression, and schizophrenia disorders can have devastating consequences on their life.  When a child is miss diagnosed, he or she will probably be prescribed certain medications that may not solve or help the issues.  In addition to being wrongfully medicated, experts can also refer the child to therapies that he or she may not need, which can make matters worse.  Therefore, misdiagnoses can be like placing the wrong permanent labels on children that may bare devastating lifelong consequences.

Why should or should not we diagnose young children?

According to the American Psychology Association (n.d.) there are approximately 15 million children and adolescents in our nation currently diagnosed with a mental disorder.  Wow! That is a scary amount in my opinion.  Being diagnosed with a mental health disorder is a very sensitive matter because a child’s mental and physical health is at risk.  Not only is the child affected by many mental issues, so are the families.  Being properly diagnosed is important and should be done adequately and over a period. Especially before labeling a child with a mental disorder.  However, I do think that many mental disorders can be misconstrued with a little more than typical behaviors.  For instance, a 2-year-old can show more aggression than a “typical” toddler would and that raise concern for some parents.  Even though the child may just be acting out a little more.  Therefore, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to should or should we not diagnose young children.  If the child is diagnosed with a mental disability, he or she deserves the best medical treatment to address the issue.  Just make sure to proceed with caution with any medications that have not yet been approved by the FDA.

What age is “too young” to diagnoses, or is there no age limit?

According to Briggs, (a Psychologist who works in a healthcare center based in the South Bronx) screaming babies as early as six months for any signs of mental issues is important.  Briggs agrees with many other experts that say waiting until Kindergarten is too late for diagnosing a child (Cardoza, 2016).  Which sounds too young in my opinion, although I’m not an expert.  Young children are still developing and trying to find themselves (in terms of behaviors), therefore, I do think many children are being diagnosed too young.  It seems to be an issue affecting their overall development.

What are the cons to giving diagnoses too young to children?

The cons to diagnosing too young are the classification that is put on the child.  Classifying a child with a mental disorder can make the child feel that he or she is broken, different, or not normal.  Which comes with its own set of problems.  To also allocating mental health drugs, that are meant for adults who suffer from mental health issues and not yet approved for a child’s consumption.  Which is scary and can also have negative consequences for children.  Children who have been diagnosed too young can isolate themselves and become depressed, worsening their condition.

What are the pros and cons to giving psychiatric medication with young children?

It is believed that mental illness medications are manufactured for adult patients and not yet approved by the FDA for a child’s consumption (Couric, 2007).  On the contrast, it seems that these medications can have devastating side effects, negatively impacting the child’s health.  Which can lead to other series of mental and health problems.  Misdiagnoses can also deter the patient from receiving the proper treatment for the behaviors and problems they are displaying.  In conclusion, receiving psychiatric medication can have devastating effects on children’s mental and health deuteration, or in some cases death.  Like we learned in the case of Rebecca Riley.

On a positive note, these medications also seem to be helping some patients that suffer from mental disorders.  These psychiatric medications can improve the children’s quality of life by treating the underlined problem(s) by improving their behavior.


American Psychological Association (n.d). Children’s Mental Health: Why is Children Mental Health Important? Retrieved from:http://www.apa.org/pi/families/children-mental-health.aspx

Cardoza K. (2016). Screening Mental Health In Kindergarten Is Way Too Late, Experts Say. National Public Radio. Retrieved from:https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/09/09/478834927/screening-mental-health-in-kindergarten-is-way-too-late-experts-say

Citizens Commission on Human Rights (2007). Children Misdiagnosed with Mental Health Issues. Retrieved from:http://www.cchrflorida.org/children-misdiagnosed-with-mental-health-issues/#comment-5405

Couric, K. (2007). What Killed Rebecca Riley? CBS News. Retrieved from:https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-killed-rebecca-riley/3/


Week 7: Diagnosing Young Children

Alison Jiles(Jul 17, 2018 7:25 PM)– Read by: 1

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Last Edited By Alison Jiles on Jul 17, 2018 7:26 PM

1. What effect might misdiagnosis have on children lives?

Misdiagnosis of any condition on a child could be life-threatening or altering for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons surrounding medicating a child for a diagnosis that may be incorrect. As visits to the doctor including a mental health diagnosis nearly tripled from 1985 to 1999, psychotropic medication prescriptions followed the incline as well (Glied & Cuellar, 2003). A great reference to go along with this question involves the movie “Brain on Fire,” which can be watched on Netflix. This true story was produced to raise awareness as to how a medical diagnosis can be difficult to separate from mental health diagnosis. If the patient’s parents had not continually pushed for further research and explanation from doctors surrounding their child, she would have had a completely different outcome. This just going to show how life-threatening any type of misdiagnosis can be, especially on children.
2. Why should or should not we diagnose young children?

Some parents or physicians make the mistake of taking a child’s behavior as an insight into their diagnosis. According to Ronson (2011), kids were acting out and throwing temper tantrums, which in turn was leading to a bipolar diagnosis. The parents felt as if their child’s behavior was so damaging to the environment that surely something had to be wrong with them. This can put a child at risk for a misdiagnosis. However, some children are in need of a diagnosis in order to treat them early on before it becomes life-altering or dangerous. Overall, this question is very complex and requires deep research and multiple considerations for each patient during the diagnosis process.

3. What age is “too young” to diagnose, or is there no age limit?
In working with children in a psychological education center, I was quickly intrigued as to the age the children were when they were being diagnosed with a mental health or behavioral condition. Some literature believes children should not be diagnosed with certain conditions until their personality has matured to a certain level. Most personalities are well developed around age 7, but significant changes can still occur throughout development. According to Costello, Mustillo, Erkanli, Keeler & Angold (2003), the overall prevalence of any disorder was the highest at ages 9 and 10.
4. What are the cons of giving diagnoses too young to children?

The diagnosis may not actually be correct, in that it may match with the current actions, temperament and development of the child but not their collective self. The diagnosis could introduce a variety of drugs that could impact the potential development of the child, which could cause more harm than good.
5. What are the pros and cons of using psychiatric medication with young children?

If the diagnosis is correct, then introducing the appropriate medication at an early enough age could decrease the likelihood of the symptoms worsening. Psychiatrists and psychologists could provide the family and patient with resources that could potentially have a positive impact on the family as a whole. However, psychiatric medication is often prescribed on a trial and error basis. It can be very difficult to make sure the child is receiving the right dosage, and too much of a certain dose could impact other areas of there life.

Ronson, J. (2011). The kids are not alright. New Scientist, 210(2815), 44-47.

Glied, S., & Cuellar, A. E. (2003). Trends And Issues In Child And Adolescent Mental Health. Health Affairs, 22(5), 39-50.

Costello, E. J., Mustillo, S., Erkanli, A., Keeler, G., & Angold, A. (2003). Prevalence and development of psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence.Archives of general psychiatry, 60(8), 837-844.