Answers, not opinions. June 10, 2008 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I don't understand why some of the answers to this question aren't being deleted. They are expressing their opinions about whether or not it's appropriate to give children psychiatric drugs, or what drugs have worked for children they knew, and that wasn't what was asked.
posted by desjardins to Etiquette/Policy at 2:18 PM (114 comments total)

First
I was
Alarmed, but
Maybe
Only a little.
posted by carsonb at 2:20 PM on June 10, 2008


That's AskMe, today, it seems.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 PM on June 10, 2008


The last part of the question is "We're trying to avoid court, but we don't want him to be on medication for the rest of his life. What the heck can we even do?!" which leaves it pretty open.

I removed a few comments that were pretty off-base, but in many cases opinions ARE answers and it's a little easier to do this sort of thing if you don't link to each individual comment so that when/if we delete them people aren't showing up in MeTa asking "what did it say?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:22 PM on June 10, 2008


What did it say?
posted by ericb at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2008


damnit.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:24 PM on June 10, 2008


; )
posted by ericb at 2:25 PM on June 10, 2008


Save me, internet!
posted by Burhanistan at 2:28 PM on June 10, 2008


Sorry - please remove the links in the OP then.
posted by desjardins at 2:31 PM on June 10, 2008


I don't think it's that wide open of a question, anyway. The answer to "We don't want him to be on medication, what do we do?" isn't CHILDREN SHOULDN'T BE ON MEDICATION ANYWAY!!!111
posted by desjardins at 2:33 PM on June 10, 2008


desjardins said: "The answer to "We don't want him to be on medication, what do we do?" isn't CHILDREN SHOULDN'T BE ON MEDICATION ANYWAY!!!111"

The bias in the question is pretty clear, though, so I suspect the OP would welcome that sentiment.

I dunno. Maybe I'm just a devil's-advocating jerk, but I think it's pretty horrid (and a demonstration of bad faith) for anyone (much less the father's girlfriend) to imply that a child's mother would intentionally inflict harm on him. The OP hasn't demonstrated any reason why that kind of abuse should be suspected, other than that the parents clearly don't get along. So it would be nice if everyone was truly advocating for the kid rather than just trying to be right and get their own way.

I come at questions like this from the perspective of the kid, both because I have ADD and because my parents split up and had a shitty, angry, me-in-the-middle divorce. Maybe it's a sensitive subject for me because I grew up with a stepmother taking nasty swipes at my mother. I just had to get that off my chest.
posted by loiseau at 2:46 PM on June 10, 2008


Can't post it in-thread, so I'll post it here.

CHILDREN SHOULDN'T BE ON MEDICATION!

God, this shit kills me. People will fucking do anything if some doctor says it's alright. Remember, lobotomies were in vogue for a while. So was giving kids heroin as a cough suppressant. If people want to take snake oil/harmful placebos/poison, that's fine. But leave the poor kids alone. Some kids are just different, and there is no quick fix. Nurture them, care for them, and they'll probably be the next Einstein or Newton. I'd bet that if any of the significant figures in history were around as children today, they'd be shot so full of meds that they wouldn't be able to move. I picture a world where suburban moms have sunny lunches with their friends and casually ask each other, "so, what's your kid on?" And the scary part is that it's probably happening RIGHT NOW all over the goddamn place. ACK! This shit kills me. I can't wait until I have kids just so I can raise them right and show that it can be done.

What can I say? This shit offends me.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:46 PM on June 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Glad it wasn't stylish to load kids up with Ritalin and the like when I was a kid, as I would have been cornered and dosed as well. As it is, I have a hot wife, am buying a super-cool house, and travel the world. Take that, bastard vice principals brow-knitting guidance counselors!
posted by Burhanistan at 2:49 PM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't wait until I have kids just so I can raise them right and show that it can be done.


That was funniest way you could have chosen to end that paragraph. Remember: always end your angry rants with a note saying that you have no personal experience at all with the topic.
posted by tkolar at 2:52 PM on June 10, 2008 [22 favorites]


I can't wait until I have kids just so I can raise them right and show that it can be done.

Here's hoping they don't have asthma.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:56 PM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Drugs are baaad, mmkay?
posted by self at 2:57 PM on June 10, 2008


Yeah, obviously I was talking about asthma medication.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:57 PM on June 10, 2008


Remember: always end your angry rants with a note saying that you have no personal experience at all with the topic.

Well, perhaps I haven't *had* "difficult" children, but I've *been* a "difficult" child. And, like Burhanistan above, I'm glad they didn't put me on psychoactive meds as a kid. If I was a kid now, I'm sure they'd be shoving them down my throat.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:59 PM on June 10, 2008


I can't wait to continue not having kids so I can keep spending my cash on stuff I like.

I don't think it's that wide open of a question, anyway. The answer to "We don't want him to be on medication, what do we do?" isn't CHILDREN SHOULDN'T BE ON MEDICATION ANYWAY!!!111

While I agree in general, it's also difficult to say that the asker's opinion in a complicated question like this is automatically assumed to be the best and only, even though working in the context of it is important for the answerers to stick to. So, as far as that goes, the asker presents a conflict where one party actually is intent on the medication route, so it's not as surprising to see people reacting to the medication issue as an unresolved question ("yes or no?", "right or wrong?") rather than a given ("I say no"), even if insome cases said responses go venturing varyingly far out of bounds of the guidelines.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:04 PM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nurture them, care for them, and they'll probably be the next Einstein or Newton. I'd bet that if any of the significant figures in history were around as children today, they'd be shot so full of meds that they wouldn't be able to move.

Good to see you employing a rigorous scientific methodology in your critique of medical science.
posted by dersins at 3:06 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


But leave the poor kids alone.

I don't know, I sort of wish I hadn't been left alone because I was obviously bipolar and had a lot of trouble with it but the attitude was denial, some therapy, and then "get over it". Which sucked. I would have liked to have had the meds I have now. Life is 10x better.

If you don't believe that pediatric mental illness exists, well, fine, but that is a belief, not a fact.
posted by sondrialiac at 3:08 PM on June 10, 2008 [11 favorites]


Yeah, obviously I was talking about asthma medication.

Sorry, I wasn't sure which of your sweeping generalizations were inoperative.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:15 PM on June 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Fuck this whole parenting thing appears way more goddamn complex than my previous reading of metafilter had indicated.
posted by iamabot at 3:19 PM on June 10, 2008 [8 favorites]


Dr. Peter Breggin's article, Psychiatry Makes War on "Bipolar Children," is well worth reading.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:19 PM on June 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


It depresses me that people so frequently mistake their personal experience for a law of nature. "I didn't need medication, therefore nobody needs medication!"

So what can I take for my depression?
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on June 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


So what can I take for my depression?
I can't remember, only I remember it comes in buckets.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:22 PM on June 10, 2008


So what can I take for my depression?

500mg of walk it off, Nancy, twice a day with food.

posted by cortex (staff) at 3:25 PM on June 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Some kids are just different, and there is no quick fix. Nurture them, care for them, and they'll probably be the next Einstein or Newton.

And some kids are so deeply sad, twenty-four hours a day, that they think of little besides their desire to mutilate or kill themselves. Some kids spend hours screaming at their parents and slamming doors and breaking furniture and assaulting their siblings. Some kids are so astonishingly withdrawn that they can't say more than one or two words to a human being besides their mother. Some kids routinely make such a ruckus in the classroom that all of the other little Einsteins and Newtons can't focus on their little experiments for more than two minutes without interruption. Some kids compulsively pluck their eyebrows until they no longer have eyebrows. Some kids see things that don't, strictly speaking, exist. Some kids like to burn things, such as houses and people. Some kids literally can't stop talking. Some kids grow up and make somewhat embarrassing public proclamations about their hypothetical parenting abilities.
posted by dyoneo at 3:41 PM on June 10, 2008 [25 favorites]


Personally, I think that all kids should be declawed.
posted by gregvr at 3:41 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


My parents didn't believe in stitches and I have one hell of a scar after that rooster attack.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:48 PM on June 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Weasels ripped my flesh.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:51 PM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is not inappropriate in response to a question to go outside the bounds of what is being asked, particularly (1) if the question harbors incorrect assumptions, and/or (2) if the person asking the question doesn't know enough to determine that they are asking the wrong question. In any case, the person asking has the ability to filter out responses she feels are irrelevant.

A good answer to a question is not always neat and straightforward, and exploring it from different directions that might not have been envisioned by the poster is part of what makes the forum valuable.
posted by troybob at 3:52 PM on June 10, 2008


If we accept that bipolar/ADD are abnormalities of brain chemistry, rather than personality flaws or behavioral differences, then it makes total sense to medicate kids in order to correct the brain chemistry. We don't tell adults with mental illness to just suck it up and act normally.

I don't have kids, but I do have a fiancé that desperately wishes his ADD had been diagnosed as a youngster and not in his 30s. All that lost time and heartbreak, y'know?
posted by desjardins at 3:52 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


but, troybob, the posts in question weren't correcting any assumptions of the OP. Rather they were answering the question "MEDICATION SUX AMIRITE?" with "yes it does" which is not what was asked (even if it's what the OP believes).
posted by desjardins at 3:55 PM on June 10, 2008


But leave the poor kids alone. Some kids are just different, and there is no quick fix. Nurture them, care for them, and they'll probably be the next Einstein or Newton.

Serious question: do you believe in psychiatry for adults?
posted by Pax at 3:57 PM on June 10, 2008


desjardins: right, but often bad responses teach as well; a reasonably intelligent person can look at the quality (or lack of such) of the 'medication sux' argument and the points being (or not being) made and learn something from that. (in other words, when the 'medication sux' argument is being made by people who can provide nothing concrete to support their position, it weakens that argument all the more); in the case of this question (as I addressed on the page), i think that argument overall is valid, because the original question bears the assumption that 'medication for life' is necessarily a bad thing.

i see the point about answering only the question asked, but if i ask 'how can i light my farts on fire,' appropriate responses that do not directly answer my question would, i think correctly, point out that it's perhaps not a great idea to try it.
posted by troybob at 4:05 PM on June 10, 2008


(or, the debate on it is valid, not that particular side of the argument)
posted by troybob at 4:06 PM on June 10, 2008


Rooster Attack is so the name for my new band.

(and Pax - the answer is 'yes')

I don't regret posting my opinion on this matter. It doesn't wound my ego to know that people out there disagree with me. But I do regret that my comments have become the focus of this thread instead of dejardins' initial inquiry. But, whatever. I guess there's really no such thing as a derail in MeTa.

So, carry on, I suppose.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:08 PM on June 10, 2008


(and yes, I am aware that my comments didn't address dejardins' initial inquiry. I'm not pointing fingers or anything)
posted by Afroblanco at 4:11 PM on June 10, 2008


ADHD meds are a win/win because if they don't work for the kids you can always grind them up into a giant pile, dive in and spend the next three days painting the entire interior of your house with a single bristle paint brush like you always wanted to.
posted by The Straightener at 4:13 PM on June 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


"So what can I take for my depression?"

"500mg of walk it off, Nancy, twice a day with food."

Hey! That's what I was on as a kid!
It was cheap, but the side effects sure sucked.
posted by Floydd at 4:23 PM on June 10, 2008


I removed a few comments that were pretty off-base, but in many cases opinions ARE answers and it's a little easier to do this sort of thing if you don't link to each individual comment so that when/if we delete them people aren't showing up in MeTa asking "what did it say?"

If he just linked to the question, and you deleted comments, we'd all say "WTF? I don't see what you're complaining about." desjardins would explain about the deleted comments.

And then we'd ask "Oh; what did they say?" So what's the diff?
posted by timeistight at 4:24 PM on June 10, 2008


Don't worry folks, there's so much contaminated ground water pretty soon we'll all be on anti-depressants.
posted by puke & cry at 4:25 PM on June 10, 2008


Rooster Attack is so the name for my new band.

Mine is the Funky Mudras.
Or:

Baklava in the Breakroom.

posted by Pax at 4:25 PM on June 10, 2008


I guess there's really no such thing as a derail in MeTa.

Joyful words to live by!
posted by tkolar at 4:33 PM on June 10, 2008


Afroblanco, it'd be amazing if 50% of the comments in Meta had anything to do with the OP. So you're not alone.

Oh, and you're missing an "S."
posted by desjardins at 4:37 PM on June 10, 2008


If we accept that bipolar/ADD are abnormalities of brain chemistry, rather than personality flaws or behavioral differences, then it makes total sense to medicate kids in order to correct the brain chemistry. We don't tell adults with mental illness to just suck it up and act normally.

You do recognize all the unproven assumptions in that statement, don't you?
posted by OmieWise at 4:38 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, Funky Mudras is pretty good.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:38 PM on June 10, 2008


HEY LETS GO RIDE BIKES
posted by loquacious at 5:06 PM on June 10, 2008


Hey, while we're talking about off-base answers, this thread has an answer at the end of it which is the exact opposite of what the OP asked; linking to Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" in a thread which asks for poems about glory in battle is either complete tone-deafness or thread-shitting on par with a recipe for steak 'n' eggs in a thread about vegan menu options.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:07 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


if they don't work for the kids you can always grind them up into a giant pile...

I think DCFS would have something to say about you grinding your kids up into a giant pile.

wait, did I read that wrong?
posted by davejay at 5:13 PM on June 10, 2008


I can't wait until I have kids just so I can raise them right and show that it can be done.

Cool. Report back when you've done that one, Sport. Hell. Write a book. I'll buy it.

You do realize how pompous and condescending that sounded, right?
posted by tkchrist at 5:23 PM on June 10, 2008


Hey, while we're talking about off-base answers, this thread has an answer at the end of it which is the exact opposite of what the OP asked; linking to Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" in a thread which asks for poems about glory in battle is either complete tone-deafness or thread-shitting on par with a recipe for steak 'n' eggs in a thread about vegan menu options.

Yeah, I dove into that thread all eager to share my favorite Archilochus poem, but then I realized it was the exact opposite of what the poster wanted, so I backed slowly out.
posted by languagehat at 5:29 PM on June 10, 2008


Well, I guess I'll just have to recommend 'The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner' to somebody else then. I'm going to go open a beer, sit on the porch and wait for somebody to come by.
posted by box at 5:39 PM on June 10, 2008


I was on psychoactive meds as a child. I was a Ritalin kid (big surprise, I realize), and this was back in the mid-70's before they put it on the breakfast cereal like they do now. I had learning disabilities and behavior problems and all that stuff. They took me off it after awhile for reasons that I can't remember. And FWIW, I had similar problems throughout my schooling and adult life. Afew years ago, when I had a spate of panic attacks and mentioned it to my mom & sister, they both whipped out vials of Xanax and offered it to me, so maybe the whole family's wacky. But, I'm not medicated now, unlike 75% of the people I know. FWIW, YMMV.
posted by jonmc at 5:45 PM on June 10, 2008


TCBY
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:48 PM on June 10, 2008


When I was a kid, either 8 or 9, everyone in my immediate family had to have a psychological evaluation. I was the only member of my family deemed to be without any real psychological issues.

I always kind of wished they could have given me a certificate for it, or something. Nothing fancy, just one of those pre-made ones, where they just write in your name: "We Hereby Deem ________ Sane. Good For You."
posted by Ms. Saint at 5:52 PM on June 10, 2008


TCBY

Now you've gone too far. frozen yogurt is a communist plot.
posted by jonmc at 5:53 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


LMT
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:06 PM on June 10, 2008


TGIF amirite
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:07 PM on June 10, 2008


Okay, so I'm reading Nixonland (it's great, by the way), and one of the things the author mentions in passing is police officers chanting 'LSMFT.' I'd only ever thought of it as 'Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco,' and so I was surprised to learn that they meant 'Let's shoot a motherfucker tonight,' and now I feel kinda naive.
posted by box at 6:11 PM on June 10, 2008


box, it's a good idea to assume that any abbreviation featuring 'MF,' concerns motherfuckers of some sort, I've found.
posted by jonmc at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2008


What should i name my cat before i put it on medication that has expired, do you think it's still good?
posted by jbroome at 6:27 PM on June 10, 2008


Dr. Peter Breggin's article, Psychiatry Makes War on "Bipolar Children," is well worth reading.

Yes, it was, very much. Thank you.
posted by mediareport at 6:27 PM on June 10, 2008




I'm still convinced that DTMF really stands for "Dial Tone, Motherfucker!". Dual-tone multi-frequency sounds made-up.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:55 PM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


cortex wrote: I can't wait to continue not having kids so I can keep spending my cash on stuff I like.

I like my kids.
posted by not that girl at 8:48 PM on June 10, 2008


I like the stuff my kid likes.

I mean, have you seen how good kids' books are? And building blocks? Man, it's great.
posted by rodgerd at 8:58 PM on June 10, 2008


I think it is awesome when people have kids and like their kids. I even like visiting happy people and their happy kids. I also like going home at night without the kids, and the parents presumably enjoy still having the kids after I leave, and so that's all pretty much a great arrangement as far as I can tell.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2008 [7 favorites]


any abbreviation featuring 'MF'

I thought MF stood for 'Metafilter'. I'm always telling my wife about the latest MF stuff on the web.
posted by lukemeister at 10:07 PM on June 10, 2008


... although Snakes on a Plane should have tipped me off.
posted by lukemeister at 10:08 PM on June 10, 2008


My favorite mis-read abbreviation is BFF. It doesn't matter about context, when I see that I think 'best fucking friend'.
posted by jacalata at 10:27 PM on June 10, 2008


I always read BFF as "beef." It improves things.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:40 PM on June 10, 2008


I call a certain level of bullshit on the original question, or at least some of its hyperbole

No legitimate psychiatrist will diagnose a 7 year old child with bipolar disease and medicate him/her accordingly on the basis of a single evaluation session, given family turmoil all around the kid

Childhood onset bipolar disease is unusual, hard to diagnose, and a complex subject

So the entire discussion is flawed by what appears to be a biased or misinformed or intentionally misstated "fact" in its setup

This is no different, however, from any medical subject discussed in AskMe, almost -- a bunch of people, including the OP, who don't have the facts, or education, spouting off misinformed opinions on matters that have very little to do with anyone's opinion other than a highly educated medical professional who has an ethical relationship to the patient and a disciplinary accountability to the standard of care

I so wish AskMe would simply prohibit medical questions, and I think this is one of them

No service was done to the child, who is already in a shitty situation, by the wankfest that thread became
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:22 AM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


And making jokes about ADD/ADHD or anyone else's diagnosed mental illness or disorder is pretty lame too
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:25 AM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm probably alive thanks to my folks putting me on anti-depressants, so, um, fuck you Afroblanco.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:36 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


When reading some of the responses here yesterday, I thought people were being kinda dense in assuming that I was against putting kids on psychoactive meds *in all cases*. But going back and looking at my original comment, I can see how people got this impression. So, to clarify- I'm bothered by the frequency with which kids are put on these drugs; not by the fact that it's done at all. There's no doubt that some kids are better off with this stuff, but I would argue that most of those perscriptions go to kids who don't need them. And, in general, I think that the meds should be a last resort, especially seeing as that the kids don't really have a choice in the matter.

When I read the OP, I got angry and posted something inflammatory over here. No, I did not back up my statement with evidence or rational argument. This is one of those subjects that make me angry enough to where it's not easy for me to make the kind of arguments that I'd like to make. I probably should have just stayed out of it.

(BTW, tkolar, I disagree that my not having children somehow invalidates my opinion. That's the same as saying, "You don't know how hard it is to run a multinational chemical corporation, so you have no right telling me not to dump toxic waste!" But, whatever.)
posted by Afroblanco at 5:56 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, Funky Mudras is pretty good.

It was a yoga instructor's, um, instruction once. Actually, it was No Funky Mudras, which I think is even better.

posted by Pax at 5:57 AM on June 11, 2008


That makes sense, Afroblanco, thanks for the clarification. I think the main idea here is that no one here can possibly know what is right for THIS child, so either extreme PSYCH MEDS ARE AWESOME THEY SAVED MY LIFE or PSYCH MEDS ARE UNNECESSARY/HARMFUL FOR CHILDREN is mostly unhelpful (in this case, that is--those statements may be legit points of view in other discussions).

I do think there were some good answers in the thread about seeking (more) medical and legal advice.
posted by Pax at 6:04 AM on June 11, 2008


The implication in the OP's preamble is that the mom was doctor shopping for a diagnosis that she had already decided for the kid; if this is true that's horrendous; but we're only getting one side of the story here. If the doctor-shopping allegation is correct, there is real trouble here; it sounds like it could almost be a nascent case of Munchausen-by-proxy. But again, we don't have all the facts.

Another oddity is the post under the OP's account by his new girlfriend stating that a neurologist proferred the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. This seems odd as well, but again, we don't know all the facts. Did the mom start with a GP, then move to a psychiatrist, and then to a neurologist? Was the third doc (the prescriber) a neurologist at all? If so, it is very very strange behavior for a neurologist to diagnose bipolar disorder, something that is more properly in the demesne of psychiatry. Did the neurologist administer the usual batteries of tests? Remember, neurologists rely initially on tests of neurologic function to approach diagnoses of neurologic illness. The whole thing is really weird, and I think there is obviously a lot of information missing, and I am starting to agree with those who say we should nix medical questions altogether.
posted by Mister_A at 7:20 AM on June 11, 2008


I don't know about anybody else, but I sure could use a good, stiff drink right about... Oh, man - I never really noticed the homoerotic implications of that phrase before. Well, anyway - the big hand's gotta be straight up somewhere in the world by now. Here's looking at you, kid!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:33 AM on June 11, 2008


I mean, have you seen how good kids' books are? And building blocks? Man, it's great.

Only if you make the blocks yourself.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:02 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the doctor-shopping allegation is correct, there is real trouble here; it sounds like it could almost be a nascent case of Munchausen-by-proxy.

Diagnosis-shopping = Munchausen syndrome by proxy?! That's...quite a leap.

Actually, I think this is a great example of a medical and/or legal (in this case, both!) question that demonstrates why AskMe digests this sort of information just fine, as a group. The OP presented a clearly one-sided story with a lot of bits of medical information, some of it potentially inflammatory. (Divorce + mental health + medication of children is a stew of touchy topics! Hence the MeTa and the need for a little cleanup.)

People wrote in to challenge assumptions on both sides of the scenario presented, advise the OP to have dad get documentation of all medical exams, and consider mediation. The overwhelming take home message was that the welfare of the kid needs to be the priority over mom and dad's power struggles.
posted by desuetude at 8:02 AM on June 11, 2008


True, desuetude, the obvious message in that thread was to put the kid's welfare first. With regard to MBP, it is not so unlikely at all. The mother may have convinced herself that there is something "wrong" with the kid, and is presenting exaggerated accounts of the "problem" to medical professional. This is a common manifestation of MBP. I believe that "diagnosis shopping" is on a continuum with Munchausen's and MBP–if it is a simple case of "diagnosis shopping" for a particular diagnosis (BPD), then you are still looking at a similar pattern of behavior with potentially deleterious effects. Consciously or subconsciously, the mother may be providing an exaggerated account of the boy's behavior that is consistent with a diagnosis of BPD. This is far different and more insidious than doctor-shopping for prescription pain medications or Viagra and the like. The problem is, there is no evidence that what is described in the post has more than a casual relationship with reality. The presentation of the information in the post strongly suggests borderline pathological doctor-shopping, but we can't know what really happened.

The reason I didn't post this in the thread is because no information about this case can be verified by anyone here–maybe the mother is an RN with a history of bipolar disorder in the immediate family, and based on clinical and personal experience she has strong suspicions that the child has bipolar disorder, which is a horse of another color. Also consider that the behavior described by the father is not out of line from what you would expect from a 7-year-old boy. But we don't know what the boy is really like.

Bipolar disorder is not always obvious; it is one of the more difficult diagnoses to make because it can look like many other conditions, and indeed has many comorbid conditions that can confound the diagnosis. Teens and adults tend to self-medicate for bipolar disorder, further confounding the diagnosis, but that's not usually an issue with a 7-year-old. Bearing this in mind, it would indeed be suspicious if a neurologist (or any physician) diagnosed as bipolar a 7-year-old whose parents are in the midst of or have just completed a nasty, acrimonious divorce. IF that is precisely what happened, then this is very troubling. The problem is that we will never know what really happened. Maybe the child has a neurological deficit for which he has been visiting the neurologist on a regular basis? We don't know.

This question should be labeled "confirmation that my ex-wife is a mean and evil jerk filter" or "speculation filter" and removed.
posted by Mister_A at 8:45 AM on June 11, 2008


BTW, tkolar, I disagree that my not having children somehow invalidates my opinion.

I dunno about invalidating it, but your rant does bring to mind John Wilmot's famous quote: "Before I got married, I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories."
posted by tkolar at 9:32 AM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, my answer was pretty much: the kid's interest is what's important, so bring in all the experts (I think it is just as much about the power struggle as the medication, but that's just my opinion).
posted by misha at 9:39 AM on June 11, 2008


This question should be labeled "confirmation that my ex-wife is a mean and evil jerk filter" or "speculation filter" and removed.

Some answers were very helpful, especially the detailed answers about what should be done to make sure that the child was medicated/not-medicated correctly. Coordination of care between the parents and the professionals involved was key. The best of the answers was, indeed, picked as best answer.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:55 AM on June 11, 2008


Mister_A, MBP is incredibly rare, and is usually defined as actually doing physical harm to the child to produce symptoms. What you're describing is more like hypochondria by proxy, and would put a lot of overanxious parents on some sort of MBP spectrum.

But the vast majority of the answerers in the thread did the same thing that you mention above -- note that diagnosis is impossible, but that advice on getting a proper diagnosis and taking care of the child is legit advice, based on the information provided.

The reason I didn't post this in the thread is because no information about this case can be verified by anyone here

This question should be labeled "confirmation that my ex-wife is a mean and evil jerk filter" or "speculation filter" and removed.


The OP wasn't looking for a diagnosis of the child. She was looking for opinions as to what to do when divorcing parents disagree over medical care of a child, with a side dish of "does this story about a diagnosis smell funny to anyone else?"
posted by desuetude at 10:03 AM on June 11, 2008


Some might find this interesting:

In recent years, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of children being diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders and prescribed medications that are just beginning to be tested in children. The drugs can cause serious side effects, and virtually nothing is known about their long-term impact. "It's really to some extent an experiment, trying medications in these children of this age," child psychiatrist Dr. Patrick Bacon tells FRONTLINE. "It's a gamble. And I tell parents there's no way to know what's going to work."
from Frontline.
posted by Sailormom at 10:12 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Perhaps if the OP had framed the question differently, with less hyperbole, it would have been less noisy. Because you (desuetude) are right, there were some fairly helpful answers, but it was such a trainwreck of a question...

Anyway, that's all I've got to say about that.
posted by Mister_A at 10:15 AM on June 11, 2008


I mean, have you seen how good kids' books are? And building blocks? Man, it's great.

Only if you make the blocks yourself.


Oh, of course. I prepare the tools for the carving by flint knapping; after I've built a smple hand-knife, I can get to work on hacking off branches off a tree; a simple bit of flax preparation later and I've got the axes and adzes to fell the whole tree and begin splitting it up for the wood. With care, one can assemble perfectly-formed blocks from there.

Dyes are a bit more difficult. Simple vegetable preparations will take care of most requirements, of course, but I had to learn some skin-diving and mollusc hunting techniques to get ahold of some of the harder-to-get colours; I wouldn't want to sell my kid short with only 7 colours, after all.

Any less effort means you don't really care about your kid.
posted by rodgerd at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I didn't know Martha Stewart even had a MeFi account...
posted by tkolar at 12:54 PM on June 11, 2008


of course martha stewart has an account - it's a good thing, ain't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:33 PM on June 11, 2008


I wish I had been on ADD meds as a kid. Seriously. When I tried them for the first time, in my mid-20s (Cylert), I has euphoric at what I could do, mixed with a sadness that it had taken me so long to find such help. It sure would have helped me get through school and actually, for example, focus on my homework long enough to do it.

Of course, if that had happened, I wouldn't be the person I am today, exactly. But I think I would be pretty similar; just less trauma arguing with parents over why I was such an underachiever, more self-esteem, undergrad degree from a better college, etc.

I had a shrink once who said (basically): "Sure, I think some kids should definitely be on Prozac. But not most of the kids who are on it." I feel that, although I really believe that I was in the former category.
posted by bingo at 4:15 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am not a psychiatrist. Thank god for that, as I'd probably go by the Afroblanco School in terms of prescriptions, and that's no way to make money as a doctor who's specialty is in writing out prescriptions.

I know that there are cases in which children truly do have brain chemistry issues, and psychiatric drugs would be the best thing, but even in those cases, I'm a little wary simply because the kid is still developing, and who knows what may happen. I also refuse to believe that we're at the point where medical science has finally gotten it right and stopped giving us treatments which inadvertantly hurt us, right at the same time that, coincidentally, the FDA acts as a rubber stamp on whatever new drugs the pharmaceutical companies come up with, while those same companies have their best P.R. machines in place. Call me cynical.

As a kid, I would have been diagnosed with many, many disorders. I was hyperactive. I talked constantly during class. I went through a pyromaniac period. I was often sullen and depressed. At other ages, I was willfully callous about the effects of my actions. During a couple separated years of my life, I fought off suicidal thoughts constantly. I "saw" aliens hovering over my neighbor's yard. And now, as an adult, I'm very, very happy that I was never medicated, because my best memories are of how weird and flawed I was, and it gives me better insight into how weird and flawed I am now, and at the same time how far I've come.

While some kids may need the drugs to get by, and should have access to them, it seems very, very wrong to me to look at a child with a clear recent turmoil in his life, and chalk up his mood-swings to something wrong in his brain. I know we don't have all the necessary information in the OP, but I'd err on the side of "it's probably better for the kid to have help learning to work it out on his own." Similarly with the Ritalin Monkeys - children are active. Many of them will respond badly to sitting at desks all day long. Some small percentage of them will feel like they simply can't concentrate, and wish for some help in doing so. That last group should get Ritalin, if they qualify for it. As for the others, I can't condone the idea that regimented school life is an accurate barometer of how a "normal" child would behave, and that speed is the answer for those kids who don't fit the mold. Maybe a better diet would be more beneficial.

Lastly, I don't have kids, and so I don't find the idea of not having them to invalidate Afroblanco's very good, if overgeneralistic, point. That said, I used to have a thousand theories about raising children, but ever since I started helping raise my neice and nephews, I've come to understand that the kids have their hand on the wheel of their upbringing far more than the parents do.

That's how it should be, which is why I'm really wary of forcing kids on to drugs when they have no say in the matter.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:25 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Folks, listen: the world is smaller than ever. We're inundated with media that tells us about the most interesting stories from the furthest reaches of the world, and does so to attract eyeballs so that they can sell us hygiene products. You get the most eyeballs with the most interesting stories, and so you hear about the scariest stuff and start to think it's common because it's always happening somewhere.

Case in point: my wife and I are in the ER, and there's a homeless guy there. He's been injured in the face, and he's drunk and angry. He's roaming around, nervous and unsettled, and frustrated that he can't get in to see the doctor yet. My wife is getting nervous, and when I ask why, she says it's because she's afraid he's going to pull out a gun and start shooting. Is that conceivable? Yes, but it is likely? Of course not; but you see it enough times on the nightly news and on fictional programs, and you learn to expect that the natural outcome of a frustrated guy in an ER is that he'll start shooting up the joint.

So parents have this same problem with their kids; while there are very real problems that do happen, and a parent needs to be highly aware of (example: if your kid's urine smells like maple syrup, you'd better get 'em to the hospital stat!) there are also a large number of diseases and issues that we're inundated with on a daily basis, in news reports and magazines and daytime television and whatnot -- and so we start freaking out when we see the slightest odd behavior.

Case in point: my son and daughter are social, gregarious, intelligent, well advanced for their age, and show no signs of abnormality whatsoever -- but when my daughter throws a screaming tantrum because she doesn't get her way (she's not quite three, which is the age for such things) my wife worries that she's autistic, because that's what everyone talks about these days.

That doesn't mean parents shouldn't worry about their kids, but it's important that they try to keep perspective, and that doctors pay attention to the behavior and history of the children more than about what the parents think is wrong or should be done. The trouble is, doctors too are living in this same media-enriched world and sometimes heightening stuff too quickly.

Case in point: my father was sick in a specific way, and they began to medicate him. As new symptoms appeared, they added other meds. He ended up really, really sick -- then a new doctor said "let's pull him off all the meds and see where he's at" and literally overnight he was back to his old self, even his original problem was gone. The original problem eventually returned (and turned out to be a chronic thing) but the majority of those additional symptoms never came back.

Ultimately medication for a child is sometimes necessary, and we must be vigilant to ensure that our children are getting the care they need, but we must also distance ourselves from our fear and our concern and realize that a measured and cautious response to problems is required of us as parents; we must take our time and exhaust the less harmful solutions before we transition to the heavier stuff.

Be vigilant, but also be cautious.

I can't wait until I have kids just so I can raise them right and show that it can be done.

It's incredibly difficult to do this even if you pour your heart and soul into it, and I'd never have known that if I hadn't had kids -- and whatever you think is "right" is considered "wrong" by 95% of the world.
posted by davejay at 5:30 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread is almost as interesting as the original AskMe.
posted by sluglicker at 11:22 PM on June 11, 2008


I'm here way late. But, since I spent twelve years in the "drug discovery" field (meaning cheek by jowl with the pharm industry), I would offer the opinion that the reason that so many MeFi'ers are offering opinions here and in the original AskMe thread is because the pharm industry in general offers opinions (in the form of profitable molecules) instead of answers (like maybe low-cost cures).

Pharmaceuticals. Approach with caution. Not all are useless or bad. But don't make your children the guinea pigs.
posted by telstar at 2:24 AM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


The overarching theme of this thread is "I have little to no knowledge about pharmecuticals, but have formed strong opinions about them. Here are my opinions."
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:05 AM on June 12, 2008


Except for the post before yours, Pope Guilty. Which combines professional experience with good, common-sense advice. If there was a best answer feature in Metatalk, then telstar should have it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:42 AM on June 12, 2008


I was never prescribed any medication as a child. Now I spend most of my time making jokes on the internet about taking over the world and killing zombie hobo strippers.

Draw your own conclusions.
posted by quin at 8:00 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


that's no way to make money as a doctor who's specialty is in writing out prescriptions.

No, that's not the only thing psychiatrists do. In fact, a good number of them have long-term therapeutic relationships with their patients.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:33 AM on June 12, 2008


No, that's not the only thing psychiatrists do. In fact, a good number of them have long-term therapeutic relationships with their patients.

Hush, this thread isn't about realistically describing psychiatry.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:51 AM on June 12, 2008


Headshrinker? You brought to the party her!
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:12 AM on June 12, 2008


AfroBlanco, I think what I got out of your intial comment, which I think is what triggered others' responses, is that of course you weren't talking about asthma medicine, or chemo for a kid for cancer. In other words, it's okay to give kids medicine for "real diseases". The undercurrent I tend to read in people either being skeptical about medication or diagnosis of mental illnesses is that they are something that people can just "get over" or "deal with".

If you had a child with an infection, would medicine be your "last resort"? If they had a headache, would you encourage them to meditate or eat a piece of fruit before giving them a children's Tylenol? Well, maybe you would. But I imagine a lot of people nervous about parents giving their kids ADD medicine would think nothing of the same parents doling out cough medicine after the first cough.

My dad is a psychiatrist, and still I was given medicine as a last resort...after trying special diets, special exercises, spine alignment, counseling, vitamins and supplements, herbal remedies, and brainwave feedback (I'm sure I've missed quite a few things...this was over a period of several years). You know what worked? Medication. When you have a brain chemical imbalance, often chemicals are the answer.

Your relatively ignorant statement is kind of a slap in the face to my parents, who struggled with a child who was nearly impossible to live with (the few videos I've seen of myself as a child make me want curl up in shame). It's also a slap in the face to me and people like me, who struggled with problems as a child and really, really suffered because of it. Do you think I liked wondering why it seemed like everyone hated me and I had no friends? Do you think I enjoyed feeling stupid, crazy, distant, disorganized? I'm glad that I was finally given medicine. But as a teen, I resisted it precisely because of the general attitude that statements like yours perpetuate, and only embraced it once I discovered I could do things like relate to others and focus on a task. So I think children absolutely should be given medicine, if they need it, no matter what part of their body they need it for.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:33 AM on June 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


But I imagine a lot of people nervous about parents giving their kids ADD medicine would think nothing of the same parents doling out cough medicine after the first cough.

Even cough medicine is probably bullshit. ADD medicine helps ADD children learn and focus because it's speed (literally meth sometimes) and speed helps everyone learn and focus. (That doesn't mean it's bad if that's what works for someone.) Medical "science" is nowhere near out of the snake oil phase in many aspects. We just have fancier snake oils. So I think a healthy skepticism is warranted everywhere but especially when dealing with psychoactive regimens because we know even less about how the brain works. The "chemical imbalance" theory, for example, doesn't seem to have a lot of support in terms of "my brain has too little XYZ and too much ZYX and that's causing me to be depressed" over "I'm depressed and you can possibly measure that by looking at the XYZ and ZYX levels."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:56 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Medical "science" is nowhere near out of the snake oil phase in many aspects.

Oh for fuck's sake. God I hope you're reincarnated in the middle ages.
posted by tkolar at 1:16 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


ADD medicine helps ADD children learn and focus because it's speed (literally meth sometimes) and speed helps everyone learn and focus.

Except that in someone with ADD, the effect of the medication is opposite the typical 'speed' effect. Giving speed to a kid with ADD, if it had the same effect as giving speed to someone who does not have ADD, would be counterproductive. When I take Ritalin, the effect is a calming one that allows concentration; it feels totally opposite of what you would assume taking speed is like.
posted by troybob at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


(The argument about how Ritalin is speed and thus shouldn't be given to kids with ADD/hyperactivity is much like the argument that global warming can't possibly be happening because some places experience a colder winter. It's based on the idea that homegrown common sense trumps informed expertise, conveniently dismissing the subtleties of paradox and the counterintuitive. That such reasoning has informed the success of talk radio and eight years of Bush in office should have more definitively undermine its popularity by now.)
posted by troybob at 2:28 PM on June 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm non-ADD and my partner has ADD. Ritalin does not have the same effect on us at all.
posted by desjardins at 2:40 PM on June 12, 2008


Even cough medicine is probably bullshit.

Your link references acute cases and serious illnesses, not the common cold that affects millions of people. Certainly OTC cough medicine won't CURE the common cold, but it sure as hell helps stop the coughing.
posted by desjardins at 2:44 PM on June 12, 2008


This seems as good a place as any to remind that people have ADD/ADHD, rather than that they are ADD/ADHD.
posted by loiseau at 5:12 PM on June 12, 2008


When I take Ritalin, the effect is a calming one that allows concentration; it feels totally opposite of what you would assume taking speed is like.

Several grad student friends who procure and take unprescribed Adderall, are not diagnosed with ADD, and do not consider themselves to have ADD report that the effects include increased concentration. They take it to help them with their studies. I'm not into that so I can't give personal experience. Do you argue that all my friends have undiagnosed ADD?

I specifically noted that I was not arguing people shouldn't take stimulants for their ADD.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:03 AM on June 13, 2008


I have to say that I, a diagnosed ADD person, DO feel more stimulated on meds...it's just a very...grounding, if you will...type of stimulation. The way I like to describe it is, it feels like someone is standing behind you, holding your head still, forcing you to concentrate on one thing at a time. It has the feel of harnessing the energy of the sun into a single sniper rifle. It is empowering and thrilling, and it can help you hold still, but it is not calming or soothing or relaxing. At least not in my experience (Adderall, Cylert, Ritalin, Dexadrine).
posted by bingo at 6:02 PM on June 13, 2008


For the record, there is no diagnosis as easy to obtain as ADD. Want speed? Study the ADD symptoms and you will find your reward in any (and I do mean any) physicians office.
posted by telstar at 2:13 AM on June 22, 2008


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