Too many times when kids and teens show up in my office, they have been on the ‘Big Pharma medication wheel’ aiming to ‘fix’ their anxiety, depression, their ADD/ADHD, or their social fears. It is an attempt by Big Pharma to medicate normal.
This is what I hear. One medication tried. It did not work. Let’s try another. It works for a bit then side effects set in. Logic goes out the window, so we try another medication. Then, perhaps we ask for something different and attempt one last medication on the Big Pharma wheel of fortune seeking to find the fix for typical negative feelings we all experience from time to time and situation to situation.
By now, perhaps, your child has been on a number of different psychotropics, and nothing works. Most doctors, in fact, will tell you it takes a 'trial and error' to find THE one which does work. Sadly, however, the brain's neuroactivity has changed by this 'trial and error'. It is extremely difficult to find a solution to a problem the drugs actually created. Their brain is now altered from these medications largely created and tested on adults. And, medication DOES NOT fix a problem that DOES NOT exist. There is not a drug that changes they way a person thinks.
Cannot medicate normal
In general, the symptoms of all these mental health struggles are similar. And most of the time it is normal growth pains that occur during the development years. Puberty, friendship difficulties, losses of pet or loved one, challenging coaches or teachers, school and home responsibilities ALL generate difficult thoughts and emotions children are learning to master. Again, no Big Pharma medication exists which changes they way someone thinks or believes --- the main culprit in most struggles.
Your job is to help your children through these times and teach them to manage their emotions, regulate their thoughts, and behave appropriately no matter what their circumstances. This defines mental toughness. You do not need a medication for this learning. You know as a parent, mental and emotional strength is NOT gained when things are easy and comfortable.
Drug dealers or doctors?
Generally, outside of faulty beliefs and thinking, most mood disorders, attention struggles, and social anxiety are connected to unhealthy choices and influences which negatively affect brain function. The most common include:
* Limited physical fitness or sports involvement
* Excessive use of video games and screen time
* Diets filled with fast food, processed foods, artificial coloring, surgery drinks, energy drinks, and synthetic preservatives
* Not enough water per day (at least 85oz to a gallon)
* Exposure to environmental toxins (i.e. pesticides in food)
* Not enough sleep (at least 7-10 depending on age, growth spurt, training)
* Lack of doing hard things, suffering, and going through normal difficulty
* Lack of spiritual faith and practices
* Lack of quality friendship group
* Absentee parenting where kids are essentially raising self
The U.S. is the #1 prescriber of psychotropics and stimulant medications. If your doctor prescribes your kid drugs before asking about these lifestyle components, then you have a drug dealer NOT a doctor. This is Big Pharma medicating normal. Make these lifestyle changes first!!
Get involved and stay aware
If you have a child who struggles to interact socially, then you have to ‘force’ them to do so. Involve them in sports, band, the arts, or other interests where they must communicate face-to-face with other people. Yes, it will generate anxiety. Yes, they will be okay and figure it out. Have them order food and drinks for themselves. Let your child request to fix the order when it is incorrect. Yes, it will be embarrassing and yes, he or she will not like it, but your child does not need Big Pharma medicating normal to think differently about scary things. They need to face it and practice overcoming it.
Limit gaming and phone use. Put rules in place and utilize parental control on screen time and devices. Studies show kids with more than two hours of screen time by age five are eight times more likely to meet the criteria for ADD/ADHD. One recent study revealed up to 23 percent of those who play video games report symptoms of addictive behavior.
Eliminate all processed and enriched foods, anything containing food dyes, and limit fast food, juices, sugary drinks, and sodas. Get wise on the energy drink use and limit their consumption. These are ‘earned’ drinks and not something for daily use. Increase lean proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and essential fats.
The worse breakfast your child can consume is cereal and milk. Horrible! Try whole grain bread with avocado and eggs with a side of organic berries and water. This provides the hydration, protein, and fat the brain needs to focus and regulate emotions for their academic and physical responsibilities.
Make sure your child is sleeping 8-10 hours of sleep per night, drinking at least 2L of water per day. Take all electronics out of the bedroom. I come unhinged when I hear a child or teenager has a TV and/or gaming system in their bedroom. If they believe they need a TV to fall asleep, then you and your child believe a lie! And, you are falling into the trap Big Pharma loves considering all the advertizing across platforms claiming drugs are the answer to medicating normal.
Get back to critical thinking
Do not just rely on what a doctor tells you. Do not fall for Big Pharma marketing of normal difficulties and struggles. Your child does not need medication to go through the typical challenges of growing up. They need you to think critically and then teach them to critically think! You must assist them to build emotional endurance, thought control, and to take respectful bold action.
Parenting athletes is hard work. There's an entirely new and different set of dynamics at work. You have to be mom, dad, or mom and dad, coach, counselor, EMT, equipment manager, engineer, and seamstress all before dinner! You're not alone and maybe, just maybe, we can help each other navigate this never-ending path to glory. Hey, what's your biggest challenge with your athlete?