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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Tom Cruise and mental health

Runing for the Right points us at this The San Diego Union-Tribune article defending Tom Cruise and his statements about antidepresants:

Instead, Cruise kicked off a debate over a subject that a lot of people don't feel comfortable discussing: whether Americans are too quick to turn to prescription drugs and whether their doctors are too quick to prescribe them. Cruise zeroed in on 'drugging children' with Ritalin, which is supposed to treat hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder. That's a hugely important discussion, and it shouldn't matter who gets the ball rolling. Even if the push comes from a – gasp – celebrity, and one who has links to – gasp – Scientology. So far the public isn't buying it. According to an online poll by MSNBC, 69 percent of viewers said Cruise was 'just plain wrong' on the role of doctors and the use of drugs to alleviate mental distress. Those people are naive. My friends who are doctors tell me that they are constantly being lobbied by drug companies, trying to convince them to prescribe some of this and more of that.
I am conflicted on this issue. I strongly believe that their are people who at various points absolutely need medicines to regain any measure of control. Our brains are influenced by chemistry and there are points at which no amount of willpower or other things can 'fix' the problem without some chemical intervention. I am concerned though that we are too quick to rely on this method, especially with children. Psychiatry and brain chemistry are still very poorly understood. Cruise is also correct that exercise can be a powerful tool in combating mental illness. It may not be a coincidence that we are seeing a lot of ADHD and a lot of obeisity in children at the same time.


Blogger Random Gemini said...

Mental illness in children is extremely difficult to diagnose, there are many who argue that we shouldn't try to diagnose it, but because of this a large portion of the children that are on medication for ADHD, never had the disorder in the first place.

The last numbers I saw, stated that only five percent of the population of school aged children actually have ADHD. The rest are misdiagnosed.

I agree that we are too quick to rely on medications for these disorders, however, when a parent has a choice of putting their child on medication, or losing their child for failing to put the child on medication, what options are there? How can parents possibly say no?

6/30/2005 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I agree that the main fault lies in society as a whole and the psychiatric community in particular, not so much in individuals.

Reversing that trend will be difficult, and there is no bright line. For some children, not having them on psychiatric medicine is probably criminal and parents who refuse should lose their kids. These are by far the minority though, and we do need better balance.

6/30/2005 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger RFTR said...

Thanks for the Hat-Tip.

Honestly, I know an awful lot of people who were misbehaved growing up and were put on ritalin--has nothing to do with actual mental diagnoses, it's just "if the kid misbehaves and doesn't concentrate in school, he must have AD(H)D."

Drives me nuts.

And Cruise is also right about Ritalin being a street drug. I know a bunch of people who take it recreationally as well.

6/30/2005 10:28:00 AM  

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