• Brendan Sheerin, M.Ed.

7,213,599 American Kids Are On Psychiatric Drugs!

7,213,599 American Kids Are On Psychiatric Drugs!

Before you read these figures on the extent of childhood medication in our American society today, please take a deep breath and ask what is going on in our country and with our kids?

The following information is the most accurate data available on the subject of childhood medication here in the United States.

The best and latest information on the prescription of childhood medication comes from IQVia, the largest vendor of U.S. physician prescribing data in 2017 .

Drug Class: Age Group: Number of People:

All Psychiatric Drugs 0-5 Years 622,723

Breakdown of the use of medication in children by developmental stages:

0-1 Years 125,361 2-3 Years 202,319

4-5 Years 306,079 6-12 Years 3,259,955

13-17 Years 3,419,633

Grand Total 0-17 Years 7,213,599 kids on psychiatric drugs

Questions to ask:

  • How is it possible that we have 125,361 infants on psychiatric drugs?

  • Why are we asking 633,759 preschool children to take psychiatric drugs?

  • Why is there a huge jump to 3,259,955 in the elementary school years?

  • Why does this number barely increase in the high school years?

ADHD Drugs

Breakdown of the use of ADD medication in children by developmental stages:

0-1 Years 328 2-3 Years 1,919

4-5 Years 77,396 6-12 Years 2,119,343

13-17 Years 1,524,381

Grand Total 0-17 Years 3,655,472 kids on ADHD Drugs

Question to ask:

  • Why does ADHD medicine represent 50% plus of the childhood medications being given to children in the USA?

  • Why do the numbers on ADD meds. decline in the high school years?

To Consider in the use of ADHD medication:

The stimulant in ADHD childhood medications may cause adverse effects such as depression, anxiety, and aggression.

  • The drugs may stifle positive creative and social behaviors in the child, creating zombie-like behaviors.

  • ADD meds may limit the social and psychological capacities of the child.

  • These childhood medications have a chequered history of helping academic performance in the long term.

  • The diagnosis of ADHD may negatively impact the child’s sense of personal responsibility for his behaviors

  • The diagnosis of ADHD may undermine parental responsibility for finding non-medical parenting alternatives

  • The diagnosis of ADHD discourages teachers from seeking alternative ways to deal with classroom issues and of relying too much on childhood medications.


Breakdown of the use of Antidepressant medication in children by developmental stages:

0-5 Years 38,534

0-1 Years 6,687 2-3 Years 10,957

4-5 Years 21,299 6-12 Years 574,090

13-17 Years 1,503,185

Grand Total 0-17 Years 2,100,315 kids on antidepressants


  • How is it possible to have 6,687 infants on antidepressants?

  • Why are 38,534 children aged 5 and below on medications?

  • Why the 300% increase in the high school years?

To Consider:

  • In the June 8, 2016 copy of The Lancet, a noted British medical magazine, a study suggested that of 14 regularly prescribed drugs, only one — Prozac — proved effective enough to justify giving to children and teens.

  • Antidepressant drugs should be used only in combination with cognitive therapy.

Antipsychotics: 0-5 Years 85,143

Breakdown of the use of Antipsychotic medication in children by developmental stages:

0-1 Years 3,913 2-3 Years 27,001

4-5 Years 53,750 6-12 Years 467,500

13-17 Years 646,215

Grand Total 0-17 Years 1,194,805 kids on antipsychotics

Question: Are teachers doing a good job of identification, or are they part of the problem in encouraging childhood medication as a classroom management tool?

To Consider:

  • Medications were prescribed far more frequently for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and for disruptive behavior than for the disorders for which they were intended: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.

  • Antipsychotic medications can produce serious physical issues in children.

  • Less than 25 percent of prescribed children had any therapy services

  • Prescribing antipsychotics seems predominantly aimed at what are viewed as aggressive and impulsive behaviors, especially in boys.

  • Antipsychotic disorders such as bi- polar disorder arise in adulthood, not childhood.

Anti-anxiety 0-5 Years 389,558

Breakdown of the use of Anti-anxiety medication in children by developmental stages:

0-1 Years 102,96 2-3 Years 148,894

4-5 Years 143,69 6-12 Years 484,61

3-17 Years 577,259

Grand Total 0-17 Years 1,445,509 kids on anti-anxiety drugs


  • Why are so many of our children anxious, and why is that number growing?

To Consider:

  • Anti-anxiety drugs may have a negative, but not serious, physical impact on your child

  • Teaching your child to deal with anxiety when it hits has positive long-term effects.

At Confident Parenting Coaches, we understand that childhood medication can have a positive impact.

However, the danger is that we are over-prescribing child medications without first considering possible alternatives.

Too often, childhood medications are being used as a quick fix for difficult behavior at home or school when alternatives should be considered first.

Doctors do not understand that a focus on child temperament and parenting styles can have a longer-term, positive impact than childhood medications.

Teachers tend to equate a child’s poor behavior with poor parenting, and childhood medication is too often the easy solution for their problems with a child.

We believe at Confidential Parenting Coaches, that pharmaceuticals should not be the easy answer to raising our more challenged children.

Medication has its place in ensuring the health of our children; however, we need to become more aware of the childhood prescriptions we are giving them.

Many of these child medications have been in use now for several generations, and the question is if it is possible to look at their long-term effects?

  • In the short term, for some children, their childhood medication will have a positive impact, reducing some of the negative behaviors.

  • Over time, however, many childhood medications lose their effectiveness

  • There is no evidence in the research that childhood medications are addictive

  • A 2008 study found that fewer than half of the individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder actually had the illness- getting a second opinion is vital before prescribing childhood medications.

  • Psychiatric medication should never be a substitute for teaching kids self-regulation, or to sedate a child who is causing problems at home or school.

  • The biggest danger is that we do not know what we do not know about the long-term effects of many childhood medications.

Bottom Line: Childhood medication, when correctly prescribed, administered, and monitored may be of tremendous benefit, especially in the short run.

However, children are being misdiagnosed in a desire for a quick fix; many go under diagnosed, and others are being over diagnosed.

At Confident Parenting Coaches, we are available with parents to discuss how to create a process for their child to ensure they are receiving and using the right childhood medication to meet their needs.

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