Psychotropic Drugs and Children

Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations June 15, 2010 Belmont Media Center, Belmont MA

Robert Whitaker, Author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America

In May, 2010 Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic, gave a wonderful presentation for SftPublic on the challenge of delivering to the public accurate information about the long-term effects of psychiatric drugs. The audience asked him to consider giving an additional talk, specifically about the widespread use of such drugs for children. Mr. Whitaker kindly agreed, and his June presentation is summarized below.

Psychotropic Drugs for Children: What Scientific Studies Reveal. During the past 30 years, the prescribing of psychiatric medications to children —stimulants, antidepressants, anti-psychotics and others— has become commonplace. This practice profoundly alters the lives of the children, and so now we, as a society, urgently need to address this question: do the medications help the children thrive and grow up into healthy adults? Or does this practice do more harm than good over the long term. In this talk, we will review the outcomes literature for stimulants for ADHD, for antidepressants, and medications for bipolar disorder.

Robert Whitaker is the author of a number of books that have won recognition as notable books of the year: Anatomy of an Epidemic, Mad in America, The Mapmaker’s Wife, and On the Laps of Gods. His newspaper and magazine articles on the mentally ill and the pharmaceutical industry have garnered several national awards, including a George Polk Award for medical writing and a National Association of Science Writers Award for best magazine article. A series he co-wrote for the Boston Globe on the abuse of mental patients in research settings was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.