End Widespread Psychiatric Misdiagnosis of Children

Target: Dilip V. Jeste, MD, President of the American Psychiatric Association

Goal: End the widespread psychiatric labeling and subsequent medicating of children

During any given year, 20% of American children will be diagnosed with a mental illness. Following the diagnosis, prescriptions for medication are usually written in lieu of trying holistic alternatives, like counseling or a change in classroom setting. Despite the fact that fourteen school shootings have been committed by patients taking prescription medication, the federal government has still not required an investigation to study the correlation between taking prescription medication and committing violent crimes. The government must stop allowing the profitable but dangerous practice of misdiagnosing children with psychiatric disorders.

Between 2004 and 2011, the FDA’s MedWatch system received over 11,000 reports concerning violence-related side effects to psychiatric drugs. The reports contained 300 cases of homicide, almost 3,000 cases of mania and over 7,000 cases of aggression. And according to the FDA, only one to ten percent of side effects are ever reported to them, so the actual number of violence-related side effects are most likely significantly higher. Of the fourteen recent school shootings in the U.S., seven of the shooters were either on psychiatric drugs or withdrawing from them.

Another study found that one million kids in the U.S. are misdiagnosed with ADHD simply because they are the most immature (and usually youngest) in their kindergarten class. No account is taken for the possibility that the teacher may be under-qualified or the child may not be stimulated creatively and is therefore unable to focus in class. There have been no long term studies on how taking stimulants everyday affects children so the nation may not have even seen the half of how prescription medications affect young people in the long run. Considering Ritalin, a drug commonly prescribed to treat ADHD, is classified with cocaine or morphine by the government due to its highly addictive nature, common sense would lead one to believe that the long term effects can’t be promising.

As much as $500 million is wasted each year, $90 million of it coming from Medicaid, on unnecessary medication. So not only is prescribing medication to children dangerous, but inefficient and costly as well. The government obviously has an incentive to let prescription medication companies dole out pills at leisure because many of these companies contribute to presidential elections. But the time has come for the government to stop letting greed take precedent over children’s health. Tell the American Psychiatric Association to stop allowing doctors to misdiagnose children with psychiatric disorders.


Dear Dilip V. Jeste, MD,

After the recent shooting in Newtown, CT, many people are wondering if the incident was another case of violence resulting from the side effects of taking psychiatric drugs. Over 11,000 cases have been reported to the FDA’s MedWatch system related to violent side effects of prescription medications. And this is most likely only a small percentage of how many incidents actually occur.

There have been no studies conducted on how prescription medications affect children in the long term. But considering how many cases of violence are reported relating to the taking of these drugs, it’s time to stop taking risks. How many more school shootings need to take place before you acknowledge that the widespread psychiatric labeling of children is dangerous, expensive and negligent? We ask you to stop the psychiatric labeling and subsequent medicating of kids.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: lakeviewhealth.com

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  1. Mitchell Dormont says:

    I have been in the Mental Health field, as a professional, for over 40 years, and while I do not work with children, it has been evident that being a child has virtually been added as a diagnosis to the DSM-IV.

    • Mitchell, thank you for sharing. I used to be a teacher and couldn’t believe how easily doctors would just prescribe children drugs without checking to see what their classroom setting was like. Often, if not always, the teacher was extremely boring and unchallenging. This has to stop and I can’t believe there isn’t more widespread attention brought to such an important matter.

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