August 27, 2008

Mental Health Diagnosis in Children

Warning: Controversial Topic :)

As some of you know, I'm a counselor. I do individual, couple, children, and family counseling. One of my biggest issues is when parents want to medicate their child because their child is acting out or having some less than desirable behaviors. Why would they want to do this? Because a child + medication = an easier child to deal with.

Now I am not saying that some of the diagnoses that occur are not credible, but I would assign those to only 1-2% for children. I do not include in that small percentage MR, LD, or any other diagnosis that can be found in the disorders in infancy and childhood in the DSM-TR-IV.

The things that bother me are when CHILDREN are given a diagnosis meant for an ADULT. All of the severe mental disorders have an age range in which they can be diagnosed. There is a reason for this. Children go through so many developmental stages and with those stages they have to adjust to new feelings, etc. Adults forget that a child is just that, a child. They are not a mini-adult. They have emotions, reactions, and things they need to work through. What they do not have is the expansive verbal ability of an adult. Due to this, children act out physically. They have to make sense of what they are experiencing somehow. Yes, this causes issues in school and at home, but that's why you send your child to therapy (maybe play therapy depending on their age) to work through their issues. Then maybe, and I mean maybe, if they have gone to therapy for a prolonged amount of time and a counselor has assessed them, maybe medication could be used along with therapy. Medication does not solve all the problems a child is dealing with, it masks it.

It bothers me when parents, teachers, etc. want to take the medication route because it's easier, and "cleaner" than to send the child to therapy. Some things in life don't work with a quick fix and most mental health is one of those instances.


  1. Great post! I agree with you, I would turn to medication as a last resort, adult or child.

  2. Very well written post. I hope I'm never in that position with my child.