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PORTSIDE  September 2011, Week 3

PORTSIDE September 2011, Week 3

Subject:

'Shy' Children At Risk Of Being Diagnosed With Mental Disorder

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 19 Sep 2011 00:26:52 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (139 lines)

'Shy' Children At Risk Of Being Diagnosed With 
Mental Disorder
Children who are merely shy or sad are at risk of 
being diagnosed with mental disorders and given 
powerful drugs, experts warn.
By Martin Beckford, Health Correspondent
The Telegraph
September 14, 2011
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8763431/Shy-children-at-risk-of-being-diagnosed-with-mental-disorder.html

Psychologists say that new guidelines being developed in
America will lead more young people seeing their common
problems regarded as illnesses that must be treated,
rather than just being given support.

They fear that pupils who are quiet at school could be
diagnosed with "social anxiety disorder" while those who
become withdrawn after suffering a bereavement are
classified as having a "depressive disorder".

Children who just talk back to adults or lose their
temper regularly could be diagnosed with "oppositional
defiant disorder".

As a result, those found to have these increasingly
broad mental disorders could be prescribed powerful
medication such as Prozac or Ritalin to control or alter
their behaviour.

Now the pressure is increasing for a national review of
the use of such drugs on schoolchildren as well as more
research into their long-term effects, following a vote
at the TUC Congress on Wednesday.

Kate Fallon, general secretary of the Association of
Educational Psychologists, told delegates: "Behaviours
develop over a long period of time, often with a range
of complex causes; we can't `cure' the behaviours we
don't like with a quick fix of medicine. They usually
require careful management by all the adults around the
child.

"In 2013 we're expecting new criteria for the definition
of mental illness to be adopted here in the UK. These
criteria will lead to many more children being diagnosed
as mentally ill, based on reports of their behaviours.

"A shy child could be diagnosed with social anxiety; a
sad or temporarily withdrawn child could be diagnosed
with depression.

"These are conditions which are also likely to be
treated with medication - and under these circumstances,
Congress, we will be putting potent drugs into children
with little or no understanding of what it will lead to.

"In a society that wants quick results using drugs to
improve behaviour is very tempting. But there can be
other ways of improving children's behaviour which
typically involve time and energy from people."

Research has found that children under the age of six
are being prescribed the drug Ritalin for attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder, prompting calls for the
Department of Health to investigate the scale of the
problem and the potential long-term damage it may be
causing.

Recent figures show 650,000 children aged between eight
and 13 are on the pscyhotropic drug, up from just 9,000
two decades ago, while others are taking Prozac for
depression or anxiety.

Fears are growing that the number of children diagnosed
with mental disorders and prescribed drugs will increase
still further after 2013, when a new "bible" of the
psychiatric profession is published.

Known as DSM-5, the book widens the diagnostic criteria
for many supposed conditions including social anxiety
disorder, better known as shyness, and will likely be
adopted by the health authorities in Britain after
appearing first in the US.

The proposed new definition for social anxiety disorder
states that it is marked by "fear or anxiety about one
or more social situations in which the person is exposed
to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social
interactions (e.g., having a conversation), being
observed (e.g., eating or drinking), or performing in
front of others (e.g., giving a speech)".

In children this fear could be expressed by "crying,
tantrums, freezing, clinging, shrinking or refusal to
speak in social situations".

Young people will be deemed as having oppositional
defiant disorder if they display symptoms including
losing their temper, arguing with adults, deliberately
annoying people or being "spiteful or vindictive at
least twice within the past six months" to people other
than their brothers or sisters.

The British Psychological Society has also raised
concerns about the proposed revisions to the DSM.

It does not dispute that some children have emotional
and behavioural problems but says that patients and the
public are "negatively affected" by the continued
"medicalisation" of natural and normal responses to
their experiences, and that classifying such problems as
"illnesses" ignores their wider causes.

Prof Peter Kinderman, chairman of the society's Division
of Clinical Psychology, said: "We're not certain that a
diagnosis and a medical response is the best way to help
these kids.

"Absolutely understand and help, not necessarily
diagnose and treat."

___________________________________________

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