Friday, May 18, 2012
Book Review - DOSED: The Medication Generation Grows Up
Over the past quarter century, the number of children and teens taking psychotropic medication to ease the symptoms of mental illness has grown exponentially. From ADHD and depression to OCD and anxiety, medication has been increasingly prescribed as a solution to behavioral and psychological difficulties in the young. Now, the first generation of Americans to have grown up taking psychotropic medications are becoming adults, raising questions about how their prescriptions have shaped their experiences, their personalities, and their sense of themselves.
In DOSED: The Medication Generation Grows Up, Kaitlin Bell Barnett explores the history of mental health treatment for children and teens, and talks to the young adults who are dealing with the repercussions of the psychopharmacological revolution.
Though the effect of long-term medication use is often evaluated in a lab, the voices of the patients themselves are rarely heard. In DOSED, Bell Barnett, who at the age of seventeen began taking medication to treat her own depression, set out to document the personal accounts of young medicated patients. "Now that the first generation of medicated kids is entering adulthood," she writes, "we have an invaluable opportunity to hear about their experiences with psychotropic drugs, and their assessment of those experiences."
The book focuses on five case studies: Claire-whose story starts at age eleven -suffered from symptoms of depression and insomnia and had a family history of mental illness; Elizabeth-who is introduced at age twelve-is the child of a protracted divorce who is left without much supervision of her medication for depression and ADHD; Paul-whose story starts at age five-is caught up in the foster care system and an abundance of instability in his home life leads to him being heavily medicated for anger and hyperactivity issues; Caleb-whom the book introduces at age twelve-is an only child who was the victim of severe bullying at school which leads to post traumatic stress disorder and the later diagnosis of bipolar disorder; and Alex-introduced at age eighteen-who was emotionally abused by a step-parent and suffered a relapse of the OCD and depression that he had been diagnosed with as a child.
Just as each mental illness brings with it its own difficulties and struggles, Bell Barnett reveals that each medication comes with long term consequences as well. Issues of self-identity, the pain of relapse, and physical side effects, ranging from diabetes and migraines to sexual difficulties and risks of birth defects for pregnant women, are all coming to light as this first generation of medicated kids comes of age.
Kaitlin Bell Barnett is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in numerous national and regional newspapers and magazines, including the Boston Globe, New York Observer, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and Prevention Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
My Take on the Book
As a parent who has struggled with a child that does have some issues with mental illness this book hit home. The author brings to light some very valid arguments and concerns that my wife and I have struggled with when it came to whether or not to medicate our child. What I loved most about this book were the real life examples and stories of long time users of medication and what this has done for them (in the positive and negative) and how taking this medication has impacted their life. All of the children were now old enough to describe their feelings and thoughts on this which made the book even more compelling. I am now re-reading a few of these stories and I know that when I am done I plan to share this book with a clinical social worker that is our neighbor as she also works with kids in these types of situations and I know that she too will find this to be an interesting and informative read.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that works with medicated children, parents who have children who are medicated or are contemplating medication or others who work with children in many different ways!
All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.
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