Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Upby Kaitlin Bell Barnett
Pub. Date: 04/10/2012
Over the last two decades, we have seen a dramatic spike in the number of young people taking psychiatric medication--but, despite a heated debate on the issue, we haven't heard directly from the "medicated kids" themselves. In Dosed, Kaitlin Bell Barnett, who was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, weaves together stories from members of this "medication/i>… See more details below
Over the last two decades, we have seen a dramatic spike in the number of young people taking psychiatric medication--but, despite a heated debate on the issue, we haven't heard directly from the "medicated kids" themselves. In Dosed, Kaitlin Bell Barnett, who was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, weaves together stories from members of this "medication generation, exploring their experiences at home, in school, and with the psychiatric profession. For many, taking meds has proved more complicated than merely popping a pill, as they try to parse their changing emotions, symptoms, side effects, and diagnoses without conclusive scientific research on how the drugs affect developing brains and bodies. While negotiating schoolwork, relationships, and the workplace, they also struggle to find the right drug, deal with breakdowns, decide whether they still need treatment at all--and, ultimately, make sense of their long-term relationship to psychotropic drugs.
The results of what one psychopharmacologist describes as a "giant, uncontrolled experiment" are just starting to trickle in. Barnett shows that a lack of ready answers and guidance has often proven extremely difficult for these young people as they transition from childhood to adolescence and now to adulthood. With its in-depth accounts of individual experiences combined with sociological and scientific context, Dosed provides a much-needed road map for patients, friends, parents, and those in the helping professions trying to navigate the complicated terrain of growing up on meds.
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Table of ContentsIntroduction
Chapter 1 Difficult Kids
Chapter 2 Playing a Role: The Medicated Kid
Chapter 3 School Interventions
Chapter 4 Early Rebellions
Chapter 5 Something New?
Chapter 6 Breakdowns
Chapter 7 Side Effects
Chapter 8 Complicating Factors
Chapter 9 Reassessments
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I attended a book reading at Book Court and purchased this book. I am not in the mental health profession and have no prior association with the writer. I recommend this book highly. I have personal experience with this subject: two now grown-up kids using the class of drugs described in this book, one childhood friend who died of side-effects of anti-psychotic drugs, and I also swallow a Zoloft daily. If I had read this book before my kids started medication and therapy, the kids would have benefited, and I would have got a lot more out of my multi-hundred thousand dollar investment. What did I like about this book? First, I admire the journalistic professionalism of the writer. She points out that too much of the discussion of this topic occurs in the abstract, and that drugs too easily become a metaphor for something else. The subject tends to be discussed in a generalizing and polemical way. The writer has avoided this completely. Her observations are grounded on a mastery of the professional literature, and from the personal experience of the writer and her interview subjects. It is a nuanced, well-rounded treatment of the subject, and the work offers some good practical suggestions to parents and professionals. I hope people will read the book, but here are just some of the writer's insights that I found interesting and useful: - She talks about how important it is to explain the disorder and the treatment to the child, and how difficult it is to encourage children to take ownership of their own treatment. If this is not done correctly, the result is non-compliance or chaos (I've seen it). - At the same time that children know how to manipulate adults and game the system, they are very secretive, and often legitimately feel that therapy is an invasion of their privacy. (One of my children became an expert at lying to therapists). - The conditions of children change rapidly and it is difficult to arrive at one diagnosis. Since scientists don't really understand why some of these medicines work or don't work, the treatment has to be closely monitored and adjustments can be necessary. Let's admit it, it's just a process of trial and error. (One of my sons reached age 20 and his psychiatrist still couldn't pin down what his affliction was at all. It might be depression, it might be ADD, it might be anything... you get the idea). From a father and bill-payer's standpoint the writer also dances around another subject that is important. People, including professionals, do what they are incented to do. This is as true of the mental health field as it is for Wall Street. In this case, pharmaceutical companies, attorneys, psychiatrists and various flavors of therapists all make money delivering services "for the sake of the children," therefore ANYTHING they do is justified, so long as the child does not commit suicide without a signed waiver. Except for all the attorneys except one, I think that the professionals who treated my children were good-intentioned for the most part. However, in my experience there was no accountability in terms of demonstrating that the services had any positive impact. This is especially true of endless talk therapy, where the child can hone their skills in killing time and lying, without the therapist ever feeling any compulsion to report back that the treatment is not working. This is my opinion, not the writer's. Buy this book!
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