Despite concerns that too many U.S. youth use prescription psychiatric drugs, a new study suggests just one in seven teens with a mental disorder has been prescribed medication.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funded the study, said there was "no compelling evidence for either misuse or overuse of psychotropic medications," which include stimulants for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antidepressants and antipsychotics.
The findings are based on interviews with more that 10,000 teens and their parents.
"Certainly the use of psychiatric medications has been increasing in children and adolescents over the years," said Dr. Benedetto Vitiello from the NIH, who worked on the study.He told Reuters Health, "Most of the adolescents who met the criteria for a condition were not receiving medication, which suggests that they were being treated with something else, maybe psychotherapy, or maybe they were not even treated."
This data possibly suggests there is an underuse of medication, in some cases. Bendetto and his colleagues found 2,350 teens had a type of disorder, including ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders ad depression.
A little over 14 percent of youth with mental illness had been prescribed over the the past year.
I find these results rather alarming. It's hard to believe that this many adolescents were found to have a disorder in a population of 10,000. But it's alarming to learn that only 14 percent of them have sought medication. It's possible, however, that individuals are seeking help in a form besides medication. I suppose it's possible that the participants weren't aware they suffer from a disease, or that they needed medical or professional treatment. Also, the fact that the participants were interviewed with their parents may have affected the results of the study.