Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ponderings following last week's post

Part of the inspiration (if you would call it that) behind my sicker at a younger age post was a recent article I linked to off of Twitter that showed a region of the country that was termed "the diabetes belt".

I live in the area that would be considered the "muffin top" of said diabetes belt. Which actually surprised me because I can't imagine an area that has more young patients with diabetes than my area, but there are.

I addressed some of the issues that I believe play into the development of chronic medical conditions at younger than expected ages. Things like fast food, video games, nutrient-poor food, and apathy/laziness. I had some enlightening conversations with people who look at these issues from a societal point-of-view.

But there was one thing that I didn't think about until I sat down to figure out what my next post would be.

Are some of these conditions caused by our society pumping medications into our kids at younger and younger ages?

One of my friends is an orthopedic surgeon. He always likes to refer to medications as "controlled poisons", and he is right. There's a reason why they are called dangerous drugs.

So why are we, as both parents and medical professionals, so willing to put these chemicals into the bodies of our children? Remember, the manufacturers don't conduct large scale studies on kids because they really don't know if the kids could be harmed.

I wonder if putting these controlled poisons into our youth at such young ages somehow alters the immune (and other) system(s) of the children, causing their bodies to develop these conditions decades before they would otherwise.

Case study... I have a 17 year old patient who has been visiting the local counseling center. Over the past 18 months, s/he has had a steady diet of atypical anti-psychotics. S/he has packed on the weight over this same time period. Now S/he has been diagnosed with diabetes and is learning how to use insulin on a sliding scale because his/her pancreas doesn't work now.

My casual observation of the age group that my last post focused on (the under 32 crowd) seem to have significant histories of antidepressant use.


Or has our pill-crazy society brought this on ourselves?

Just some thoughts that have come to my mind since last week. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment here or shoot me an email.


Anonymous said...

Its not as simple as "our pill crazed society" bringing it on ourselves.

That type of comment puts the focus on the pills, not the reason for the antidepressants. Look back to your own life - mine & I'm 20 years older than you. My life was much simpler & stress free than those of my children, or children today.

My husband & I often remark neither of us knew what our SAT scores were & we're both doctors. But, children today are placed in sometimes untenable & competetive positions at an early age and with parents who often don't have parenting skills to support these children.

Couple that with fewer children who have extended families to help their parents put things in perspective & our global culture which pits our measures of accomplishment against those of entirely different cultures - you have a receipe for children with inadequate coping & life skills.

This is not a simple matter of who eats what, who takes what medications & passing judgement on parents who might fail their children. This is life evolving. No easy answer and certainly not a simplistic one.

Eric Durbin, RPh said...

I think our society views medications as being the quick fix for a majority of our ills. Rather than address the cause of a problem, we choose to mask the symptoms with meds and move on.

I do wonder how our dietary habits and the nutritional content of our foods affect our serotonin levels, and thus our need for SSRIs and the like. Like I said, my observations are that the 32-and-unders seems to be taking a lot of meds for conditions that historically have been prescribed at a later age.

I agree with the above comments about the competition and inadequate parenting skills.

And I agree that there is no easy answer. I appreciate the feedback. There are many components to these issues. Remember...these are just some casual observations from your local community pharmacist.

FireStarter said...

Health of children also depend on mother. If mother is a smoker, alcoholic or is having some medications, it will affect the baby.
And food items which we eat today have many chemicals which were not used in older days like in our area hens are injected steroids to make them fat and when we eat them we get hormonal dis-balance, fertilizers are also toxic, insecticides on vegetable are absorbed in them, and list goes on, and pollution in the air also harms. Almost everything in the environment has changed.
And people want to get rid of illness as soon as possible, and same goes for physicians they prescribe medicines which cure the disease fastest without thinking about how it will effect the other systems of the body.
I think potency of every drug should be reduced and we should use fresh meat, fresh vegetables and should not use the canned products.
and we should aware public about the fact that they should stop thinking like smoke drink and do every blunder with health, drugs will fix it. Drugs won't bring their systems to the point on which they are before a disease.

Anonymous said...

If the main example is use of Zyprexa and other 'newer' antipsychotics, then the reason is those particular drugs. While associated with less publicly identifiable tardive dyskinesias and potentially irreveversible movement disorders, they are notable for seeming to increase appetite. Overeating and differences in fat distribution directly affect metbolism and insulin production. There's probably more than that, but those drugs work on neurotransmitter systems that deal with 'rewards' and 'satisfaction' and other biological controls for overeating, or being able to judge when satiety has been met.

From simple observation, however, it seems that a mass obesity epidemic has to do in some part to the feedlot syndrome used for fattening up cattle before market so that they have a nice strip of marbling in the meat to add to the grill sizzle. Overeating leads to immobility leads to more immobility.

BlindHawg said...

In some instances, children with real behavioral problems will benefit from being treated appropriately by a specialist. The other 90 percent are being treated because their personal lives are a non-stop episode of the "Springer" show and they are responding like any normal child/adolescent would under the circumstances. Just my observation after 22 years behind the bench.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of your post when this weekend I was filling some psych meds for a 13 year old. I have a lot of these patients, as the local county mental clinic is nearby.

What has to go wrong in a young person that means they have to take: Cymbalta, Klonopin, Seroquel, and Geodon? Maybe some Adderall, too, or Concerta. I want to grab the lady and say, "what the hell did you do to this kid? What did you allow to happen? Or is this bad genetics?"
Of course, I can't, and I wouldn't, but I want to know what the back story is.

I have this other family that comes in, the mom says her 2 sons 5 and 7 are autistic. These gotta be the loudest autistic kids I have witnessed. They have none of the personality traits I have ever heard of in autistic kids. Their treatment? Adderall, Clonidine, and risperidone. No wonder they run around my store like jack rabbits on crack!

I think these "doctors" tell these parents their kids need this stuff and they'll get SSI checks and help and free healthcare and these underpriviledged, ignorant parents struggling to make a living and raise their kids eat that up.

I could be wrong, but that is my suspicion.

What sort of adults will these kids become? Obviously, they're diagnosed with mental illness, I imagine the next step is disability and they'll never make a real living the rest of their life.