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Poorer Children More Likely To Get Antipsychotics 334

Posted by kdawson
from the artifact-of-the-system dept.
krou writes "A new study by a team from Rutgers and Columbia has discovered that poorer children are more likely to be given powerful antipsychotic drugs. According to the NY Times (login required), 'children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts.' It raises the question: 'Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them — but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children?' Two possible explanations are offered: 'insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do,' and because of 'the challenges that families in poverty may have in consistently attending counseling or therapy sessions, even when such help is available.' The study is due to be published next year in the journal Health Affairs." The full article is available behind a paywall from the first link. The lead author of the study said he "did not have clear evidence to form an opinion on whether or not children on Medicaid were being overtreated."
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Poorer Children More Likely To Get Antipsychotics

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  • The short answer... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MindPrison (864299) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:49PM (#30425838) Journal

    ...yes.

    But how do I back up such a horrifying claim? By analyzing the current state of affairs in our world today, and I can only draw conclusions from our countrys actions lately. A while ago, we had the news investigators claim that poor & unemployed people get showed back in the queue when it comes to medical attention, medicines and treatment. Incredibly enough - our government admitted that it was a problem, and further investigations showed that the doctors "general" reasons for doing so - wasn't motivated by the government - but by the fact that these people held a job, a position in the society - and thus were a better "investment" for the future.

    Also - the doctors pointed out that "people with a position in society" were less likely to complain about mistreatments and other complaints, as the poor were more prone to lawsuits and false claims for monetary reasons, rather than real facts. This were all the rage on Danish TV a while ago.

    • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:01PM (#30425926)

      From each according to his ability, to each according to how valuable he is to others.

    • by TheMeuge (645043) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:12PM (#30426010)

      I deeply despise these kinds of articles for the joke they make of statistical correlation.

      I think they could all come with a giant "Correlation!=Causation" red box warning.

      On one hand, maybe the poor kids are getting over-medicated by a government/drug company/new world order rich person conspiracy.
      On the other, maybe it just so happens that more of the poor tend to have psychological problems, which would explain their (and their children's) difficulties in progressing up within the society.
      Or the environment endured by the children of the poor would tend to be more damaging than the safe and comfortable environment that the children of the wealthy enjoy.

      Without much more data, and without very careful prospective analysis, these "correlation" articles are little more than curiously interesting FUD.

      However, since they tend to be part of the outrage machine, I think we ought to hold the writers personally responsible for the reactions that ensue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MindPrison (864299)

        Without the "writers" reactions - we'd have a society that quietly accepts anything - but alas - we have a democracy, technically - this means we can think, investigate and opinionate on anything we want.

        If you REALLY want the true stories, you'll have to dig into each writers "claims" - and google them, believe it or not - they're fairly easy to find - that is...if they're true. I see no reason why people would lie about it, maybe they're mis-informed, but lie? no.

        • by TheMeuge (645043) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:34PM (#30426170)

          Without the "writers" reactions - we'd have a society that quietly accepts anything

          But that's the problem. We DO have a society that quietly accepts everything... everything that appeals to their basest drives, or reinforces past prejudices, with little to no application of logic or reason.

          In this case, as well as when considering Anthropogenic Global Warming, Evolution, or vaccinations, the most paranoid conclusions are the most satisfying, in that they reinforce a foregone conclusion, as well as relieve the bearer of further responsibility.

          Glaciers melt = not my fault, it's the sun.
          Child has autism = not my fault, it's the vaccines
          Child has problems = not my fault, it's the drug conspiracy
          Too stupid = fluoride in the water
          School shooting = gun manufacturers and video games
          Poor = Conspiracy of the rich

          These are just a few of a myriad of memes that have been further reinforced by the advent of the Internet and the ensuing ability to find supporters of the most wildly wrong ideas.

          And that's scary.

          • by Surt (22457) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:46PM (#30426258) Homepage Journal

            I fail to see how the rise in autism rates can justly be attributed to parenting skills. It may not be the vaccines, but it's almost certainly not the parents either.

            • by buswolley (591500) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @09:19PM (#30426824) Journal
              I agree. You know the main reason there is over-medication of the poor is probably the rate that poor clinics see people. 5-10 minutes with a doctor results in the easiest solution.
              • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday December 14, 2009 @10:58AM (#30431006)

                I agree. You know the main reason there is over-medication of the poor is probably the rate that poor clinics see people. 5-10 minutes with a doctor results in the easiest solution.

                Pills are wickedly efficient, other forms of treatment take time and effort on the part of a caregiver. If you have no money, they'll take what little you have to give you pills, but you can't even hope to get access to significant amounts of other people's time and effort - plus you're probably spending all of your own just trying to get enough money to keep a roof over your head.

            • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Sunday December 13, 2009 @10:46PM (#30427442) Journal
              I think your missing the point because you are putting words into the GP's mouth that are simply not there. - "not my fault" may be true but the urge to blame comes up with "it's the vaccines" rather than random bad luck/genes/whatever. You demonstrated this nicely by projecting your own urge to blame onto the GP and came up with "he is blaming the parents".

              My own urge to blame says the "rise in autisim" is more likely a statistical artifact atributable to better diagnosis of the people that doctors diagnosed as "retards" in the not to distant past.
          • everything that appeals to their basest drives, or reinforces past prejudices, with little to no application of logic or reason.

            Sure, the internet is a "fast food / take-away" smorgasboard of "what would you like to believe today?".

            But we can't expect the layman to understand everything it takes several years of medicin and a degree to even comprehend, but the human nature alone - sometimes provide all the starting points you need for further investigation.

            Just the case from Denmark alone, proved that there really were something to it, not just FUD.

            As it turns out, it wasn't the government that was to blame, but simple human judgmen

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:26PM (#30426466)

            "Poor = Conspiracy of the rich"

            Except this one has abundant evidence. Government's are paid off by business to sit on their hands and not do anything their people request (disability, raise the minimum wage, etc).

            Then there was the Bailout. Socialism for the rich, market discipline for everyone else. I could cite numerous other instances, oh like workers being killed by coca cola? Not to mention workers WERE being killed here in north america all the way up into the 1930's, your middle-class life came from a concerted effort of the working class against the rich. Ever wonder why we call it the 8 hour day?

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8_hour_day [wikipedia.org]

            What's even scarier is most peoples total lack of knowledge about business history.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        you just gave me a new catch phrase for a phenomenon that I previously didn't have a name for - "The outrage machine" the modern media's obsession with everything being either a crisis, save the children or save the planet.
      • by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:32PM (#30426160)

        The article is actually normalized for one of your claimed possible confounds, the variance of psychological problems by socioeconomic position. The finding isn't just that the poor get more antipsychotics full stop, but that the poor with the same diagnosis as a wealthy person are more likely to be treated with antipsychotics for that condition.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @09:36PM (#30426972)
        I've never seen someone use "correlation isn't causation" who understood what that means. They use it as "I don't like the implications" as opposed to "I understand what they said, I agree that they have valid methodology and the conclusion (that poorer children get different care) is correct, but I believe that there is some other cause." Poor children appear to get worse care. Is it that they got the appropriate care, but that diseases are sufficiently different across income lines (in which case it should be "being poor causes mental illness"), is it that the poor parents are more likely mentally ill with some genetic disease, or is it that the care given by public insurance differs from private insurance? Or is there something else out there you think it could be? There are only a very short list, if you concede the study is valid.

        Without much more data, and without very careful prospective analysis, these "correlation" articles are little more than curiously interesting FUD.

        In general, these are repeated by others. When found valid, they are then examined for confounds. If you have a correlation and all confounds corrected, you do have a case where correlation = causation. In nearly all cases I've seen with a valid study, correlation = causation (but is usually not just one factor, such as there being a real difference in the rate of genetic mental illness between those on private and public insurance, and the differences in insurance causing a real difference in treatments as well).

        However, since they tend to be part of the outrage machine, I think we ought to hold the writers personally responsible for the reactions that ensue.

        So you don't even care if they are right, you want to hold them "responsible" for the reactions? Where did the truth go? You aren't looking for it. You are assuming a study is wrong because you don't like its results, then already looking for the lynch mob for those that point out problems with our system. That's just nuts. Why not have firing squads for people that submit articles to scientific publications. We'll appoint you head, and if you know that the article has to be wrong, then you just shoot the submitters and be done with it. It's easier that having all that science hit the streets with people who can't understand it like you do.

        There has never been a study that shows smoking causes cancer. In fact, there have been pretty much no studies done that show anything causes cancer in humans. We don't know if asbestos causes Mesothelioma. We just have some correlations, and we know those are always wrong and done by those trying to pervert science. I guess you were with the tobacco CEOs when they got up in front of Congress relatively recently (long after the warnings went on the packs) and stated that they do not believe that smoking is harmful? After all, it's never been proven. Just a couple correlational studies, and we know that if you find a correlation, it means there can't be a causational link. Right?

        Now excuse me, I have to go smoke because a cigarette a day keeps the doctor away. Or so the tobacco industry tells us, and no study has ever proven them wrong.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheMeuge (645043)

          I've never seen someone use "correlation isn't causation" who understood what that means.

          And what makes you so qualified?

          In general, these are repeated by others. When found valid, they are then examined for confounds. If you have a correlation and all confounds corrected, you do have a case where correlation = causation. ...In nearly all cases I've seen with a valid study, correlation = causation...

          That's so deeply wrong, it's not even funny.

          Firstly, AFAIK correlation can NEVER show causation mathematically.

          Even in a perfect 2-variable system, with a correlation of 1.0, one cannot assume causality from correlation because the direction of causality cannot be deduced from the correlation.

          Secondly, there are countless instances where correlation has no causative relationship at all. For a simple explanation, consider the correlation of a chair and a table being in the sam

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by AK Marc (707885)
            Firstly, AFAIK correlation can NEVER show causation mathematically.

            Spoken like a true tobacco exec. Do you believe cigarettes cause cancer? Yes or no? Because they have never been shown to cause cancer mathematically. And to state that like it's an important thing about such studies is to imply the opposite.

            Except there's been ten million studies that examine individual components of the mechanism of how smoking causes cancer which complement the PROSPECTIVE statistical studies regarding the correla
      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Sunday December 13, 2009 @11:53PM (#30427774) Homepage Journal

        Hmmm. I've observed for decades that parenting skills seem to be people's lowest priority in life. I'm guilty, my parents were guilty, and many, many of my co-workers and associates are guilty. No one wants to take the TIME to work with their kids. And, parenting is a full time job - you can't spend 1/3 or more of your time on a job, a couple hours commuting each day, attend a couple meetings/ball games, spend an hour or two at the bar, and still find time to spend with your kids. Especially since the kids have their own routines that just never seem to mesh with yours. You find an hour or three to spend with the kid, and he has somewhere to go, something to do, a girl to see, or whatever.

        Upper class or lower class, I see the same thing. Everyone has to go, go, go - they are busy with SOMETHING all day, every day - even if it's trying to score the next fix for their habit.

        Is it any wonder that kids have problems? Couple that with our own unwillingness to spend time working problems out, and yes, drugs are over prescribed for the kids.

        We've forgotten what it's like to be kids, don't know how to teach kids, and we're just annoyed that the kids are around to bother us - so we offer them some drugs that will change their conduct, and make them quieter, therefore more tolerable.

        To really fix the problem, we need to slow society down a few notches. I've mentioned in another thread that grandparents serve a vital function in a healthy society. Today's grandparents are self centered, retiring to Florida or California at the earliest opportunity, rather than being part of the family. A retired person has little more than time - time that can be spent with the kids, helping them to understand the world, and teaching them to deal with adversity. Or, helping them with more mundane things, like algebra, or archery, or learning to drive.

        Our culture is crazy - why shouldn't the kids be just as crazy?

        IMHO, there are few conditions that can't be dealt with through patience, discipline, and love. Drugs aren't going to "fix" any problem a kid has. At best, he'll be turned into a zombie for as long as the drugs last, then he comes back to reality, with all the same problems.

        But, don't try to sell those ideas to the big pharmaceutical companies. You'll be branded a heretic.

        • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday December 14, 2009 @04:30AM (#30428944) Journal

          Nay, on the grandparents being more involved

          My own parents have taken two of their grandkids away from their folks, ostensibly because the real parents didn't have time, and came close to getting three more. One of them was my own. They did this, ostensibly, because the real parents were "bad" parents who didn't spend enough time with their kids, or who were too strict when they did.

          I don't recognize them anymore. In fact, I've gone so far as to fire both of them.

          I remember them as drunken/angry vigilant defenders of the castle. Mom had her rum, and the occasional office job -- Dad had a real, swing-shift job that ate his soul but made good money and the occasional beer. I remember being up late while Mom sang Barbara Straisand tunes and played the piano (which she was never very good at), and I remember growing up in fear of waking up Dad when he'd been working nights.

          Mom would bring home weird guys from the bar while Dad was at work. And there was a special belt that Dad had, mostly for when we'd pissed off Mom somehow and that made her tell him to "do something." The belt eventually broke in the middle. (For Mom, kitchen utensils were the favorite implement.)

          But they've been going to church for the past few years, so they know better for what's good for their grandkids than the kids' own parents do. Court action ensues. Lies are told. Honesty defeated, kids disappear from the home they've always known.

          Nay, on the grandparents. When I was a kid, Grandpa would take me to feed the ducks and get ice cream. If he had a problem with how I was being treated, he'd talk to my folks about it until he was satisfied. Nowadays (and this is in more than one family that I know) the grandparents think they've got it all figured out, and are willing to abandon their own children in order to do what's "right" for their grandkids.

          Nay, again. Parents need to step up and be parents, and grandparents need to be grandparents. Any other way and the kids end up even more screwed up than they were going to be otherwise, while the courts seem to think it's OK.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

            Ehh. I feel for you. I had an abusive father, and I can sympathize with what you are saying. Or, empathize. Even so - not all grandparents are assholes. And, some asshole parents mellow with age. I don't know if mine did or not - when I left his house at age 15, I never went back, he never saw his grandchildren, and I never even talked to him again.

            But, there are literally MILLIONS of old bastards in this country who really do have a lot to offer today's kids. As a nation, we should tap into that res

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Technician (215283)

        Often overlooked is the amount of FAS/FAE children of lower income households. FAE often goes with drinking teens and unexpecte pregnancy. This drops these unwed mothers into the system in lower economic classes with chldren with ADD Bipolar ODD and other behaviour problems.

        In general the survey failed to look at upstream to where these children and parents came from and any factors such as substance abuse, unwed, or other factors put more children with high needs into low income households.

        The indicator

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JoeMerchant (803320)

        maybe the poor kids are getting over-medicated by a government/drug company/new world order rich person conspiracy.

        It's not usually a conspiracy, it's usually an emergent property of a system of mostly self-serving, uncaring actors. That's why these things are studied and the lawmakers occasionally decide to change the rules to re-orient the self-serving actors to another course of action that will ultimately be better for society as a whole...

        Yeah, that happens sometimes.

  • Brave New World (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Torodung (31985) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:49PM (#30425844) Journal

    Take your soma and like it, kids.

    Deeply troubling, but not unexpected.

    --
    Toro

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Soma sounds kinda fun. I'd take it willingly.

      Antipsychotics are actually pretty lame. They kill higher-level cognition, reduce you to a slow-witted and brainless dullard, put you to sleep and make working out damn near impossible depending on the dosage. They cause reversible decrease in penis size, lack of libido, weak erections, weak orgasms -- in other words, permanent whiskeydick as long as you take the drugs. They are the perfect drugs for creating a zombie society suited to 1984 rather than Brave N
  • Parent pushback (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andy1307 (656570) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:56PM (#30425894)
    Could it be because middle class parents are more likely to push back against drug recommendations?
    • Re:Parent pushback (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:01PM (#30425924) Homepage

      There are many explanations, none of them happy-making:

      1. families with dysfunctional dynamics that lead to serious behavior problems among children are more likely to be poor

      2. families with histories of psychotic behavior are more likely to be poor

      3. the same behavior is interpreted differently when it occurs among middle class and/or white children than when it occurs among poorer or non-white children

      4. non-pharma interventions are more expensive.

      Which of these explanations one jumps on first is a good litmus test of one's political ideology.

    • by Dunbal (464142)

      Could it be because middle class parents are more likely to push back against drug recommendations?

            Or could it be that lower class parents are more likely to blame anything but their poor parenting skills for their children's behavior and seek the "cure" in a pill?

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:57PM (#30425904) Journal

    Does this also happen with other public health care systems or is this mostly limited to Medicare in the US?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by barzok (26681)

      Does this also happen with other public health care systems or is this mostly limited to Medicare in the US?

      Don't most public healthcare systems take care of everyone regardless of socioeconomic status?

      With poor patients on Medicare in the US, the physician has an economic incentive to get the patient out the door as quickly as possible. Under an all-encompassing public health care system, there'd be no difference between the poor and middle/upper-class patient.

  • Unless things have changed, the NYTimes links are not actually behind a "paywall", just behind a login (which is free as far as I remember).

    In other words, feel "free" to RTFA.

    • by krou (1027572)
      The paywall they're referring to is on the first link, which is not the NY Times.
  • None of the Above (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:05PM (#30425960)

    A new study by a team from Rutgers and Columbia has discovered that poorer children are more likely to be given powerful antipsychotic drugs. According to the NY Times (login required), 'children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts.' It raises the question: 'Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them -- but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children?' Two possible explanations are offered: 'insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do', and because of 'the challenges that families in poverty may have in consistently attending counseling or therapy sessions, even when such help is available'. The study is due to be published next year in the journal Health Affairs.

    Non of the above.

    These people are beta-testing the atypical antipsychotics.

    Poor people can't litigate. It makes the drug companies look good by 'helping the poor', and gives them lots of people to test their new drugs on. /I've taken these medications //as a class, after 6 months only 30% of people prescribed atypical antipsychotics can remain on them, because the side-effects are so unbearable.

    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:23PM (#30426098) Journal

      Part of the problem may be the parents themselves seeking a quick fix for behavioral problems rather than proper treatment. Combine that with the stress encountered by those who are poor and it shouldn't be surprising that the rates of treatment with antipsychotics is as high as it is in poor families on Medicare. The various side effects from the class of drugs themselves depends largely on the dose. Higher doses tend to cause more harm than good; some of them being rather nasty... The only reason I know about the class of drugs has to do with the fact taht my ex-girlfriend was on Risperidone which is an atypical antipsychotic drug. She was started on the drug when she was si and only very recently actually got treatment for her issues that went beyond the drug its self. FRom knowing her as long as I did, it became very apparent that the reason she was on the drug had much more to do with her parents than sound mental health treatment. Her issues went way beyond what the drug was designed to treat and it was largely ignored for years. Sadly, I don't think she's alone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:06PM (#30425970)

    Before y'all get on your high horses, note that antipsychotics aren't exclusively used for psychosis. Abilify, one of the most popular, is used for mood swings, psychosis, bipolar in general, and as an adjunct to antidepressants. Abilify is an amazingly effective method of relieving intense psychological suffering quickly. The middle class alternative is a year or two on therapy and a couple other antidepressants, which is probably a nicer way of doing things for the patient, but is much slower and less cost effective. Once a patient is on a drug like Abilify, it is much easier to deal with their psychological trauma quickly. It might not be the best solution, but it is a very good one. And, truth be told, poor people aren't going to get the same care as middle-class people.

    • by Lord Kano (13027) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:20PM (#30426070) Homepage Journal

      I agree. Several years ago I saw a child who had some emotional problems come around relatively quickly with psychotropic drugs. Pumping an 11 year old full of these medications isn't the best solution but this kid was going to end up hurting someone or himself and his mother didn't have the money for the best therapists. It took about a year to get the combination of medicines and counseling right but it caused an amazing turn around in this little boy.

      If they weren't so quick to medicate poor children, we'd be asking why so many poor kids are going without adequate treatment for mental illness.

      LK

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sjames (1099)

        Was that 11 year old ever able to stop taking the drugs?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lord Kano (13027)

          He's 15 now. He's still medicated. It'll probably be for life, bi-polar disorder runs in his family.

          LK

    • I wouldn't get too strong into claims about what it's "amazingly effective" for. As you point out, Abilify is prescribed for a lot of things, and the vast majority of them are "off-label" uses for which there has been no real demonstration of effectiveness.

      Getting a drug approved in the first place requires a fairly rigorous process of double-blind, peer-reviewed studies. But once it's approved for a particular use, there is no similar level of rigorous screening before it can be prescribed off-label for other, unapproved uses.

  • Perhaps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gad_zuki! (70830) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:09PM (#30425990)

    Mental illness runs in the family and affects economic status. So poor parents pass on their mentally ill genes to their kids thus their kids are more likely to be mentally ill and on some kind of treatment. My own personal experience registers this is as true. I see a lot of emotional problems, especially mood instability, with poorer people. I wouldnt be surprised if this was a chicken and egg problem explained without the "OMG BIG GOVERNMENT/CAPITALIST CONSPIRACY" angle slashdot tends to sell.

    • by forand (530402)
      So you are suggesting that there exists a sub class of humans which are more likely to be mentally ill? Seems like a straight path towards eugenics to me. As for your statement how this is going to be used as a "OMG BIG GOVERNMENT/CAPITALIST CONSPIRACY:" who needs a capitalist conspiracy when we can 'scientifically justify' the position of people in society?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Compared to classic Mendelian stuff like Huntington's disease, the heritability of most psychological disorders is fairly modest, and the exact genetic basis rather obscure; but there is a substantial body of evidence that it isn't zero(for a fair number of conditions).

        Further, there is a fair amount of evidence that early life stresses(and even prenatal exposure to maternal stress) can have a number of permanent effects, most of them not good, on individuals.

        And, of course, your risk of eating lead-p
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ironsides (739422)
        I'm pretty sure a "sub class of humans" isn't what the OP meant. However, several mental diseases such as bi-polar and alzheimer's do have genetic causes and run in families. Sad, but true. Similarly, these diseases make it more difficult to succeed, not impossible, just something that raises the bar. This would be more along this lines of those who have mental diseases are more likely to be poor, which would be interesting to study.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Usually, it's a "small government conspiracy!" angle, because a lack of government involvement is usually seen as the problem.

    • Re:Perhaps (Score:5, Informative)

      by krou (1027572) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:29PM (#30426138)

      Just because mental illnesses may be more common amongst poorer people doesn't explain why they are more likely to be given drugs. Please also note the line that says "Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts". If they're less severe in nature, then why the drugs?

    • Mental illness runs in the family and affects economic status.

      True enough.

      So poor parents pass on their mentally ill genes to their kids thus their kids are more likely to be mentally ill and on some kind of treatment. My own personal experience registers this is as true. I see a lot of emotional problems, especially mood instability, with poorer people

      An alternative explanation is that if you have poor emotional skills - unable to control your own emotions or understand those of others - you are less likely to succeed. And lacking emotional skills yourself, you are unable to teach your kids those skills.

      While it could be genetic, it could equally be a function of poor parenting. There are probably plenty of cases in both categories, so I'd urge caution before assuming it's a genetic problem.

    • by oldhack (1037484)

      Or the other way around. Extra stress growing up/raising kids in poverty causes/exacerbates mental issues.

      Life is complicated, but one thing's for sure: it sucks to be poor.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sjames (1099)

      "OMG BIG GOVERNMENT/CAPITALIST CONSPIRACY"

      What does it say about a society when mental illness makes you a permanent member of the underclass?

      However, my own observations are quite the opposite of yours. During a time when my personal economic status was poor, I became more volatile and had to make a much bigger effort to not beat the crap out of people who ticked me off. It's easy to be a stable happy person when you have a stable happy economic status.

  • Bi-Polar at Three? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:10PM (#30425998)

    "They say it's impossible to stop now," Evelyn Torres, 48, of the Bronx, said of her son's use of antipsychotics since he received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at age 3.

    Okay, I understand that it's possible for three-year-olds to be bipolar, but how on Earth do you reliably test for that?

    • by Lord Kano (13027) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:26PM (#30426120) Homepage Journal

      Okay, I understand that it's possible for three-year-olds to be bipolar, but how on Earth do you reliably test for that?

      If they diagnosed a three year old child as bipolar, I can just about guarantee you that it was patently obvious to anyone that the kid had some kind of problem. I don't work in that field, but I have friends and loved ones who have had to deal with mental illness. I suppose that it's possible that this kid just happened to run into a quack, but it's more likely that he was violent with others and possibly even himself. Lawsuit potential is so high if they misdiagnose a child that young, that I'd be willing to bet that the doctor that prescribed this medication consulted many other doctors first.

      LK

  • How this works... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZephyrQ (96951) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:12PM (#30426014)

    Doctor, Timmy is getting in trouble in school.

    How does he get in trouble?

    The teacher says he is too active and might have ADHD.

    Have you seen a counselor about this?

    No, we can't afford one!

    Well, let's try a round of Adderall...

    This might seem oversimplistic, but I teach a high school 'behavior intervention' classroom and deal with parents all the time who have the same concerns/issues. More often than anyone will admit, many of the issues related to behavior have to do with cost/consequences...and parents who will not/can not engage the reality of their children's behavior (It's not their fault! They are just picking on Timmy!).

    Often, the teachers are just as guilty making these recommendations as the doctors--it is illegal for a teacher to recommend/suggest that a child has to be medicated to attend school, but it happens. And many 'poor' parents do not have the background/education to question the recommendation. So, they go to the doctor and tell them that Timmy has to have medicine to attend school.

    The fun part in all this is watching the merry-go-round of meds that a child will/will not take to modify their behavior. For some kids, it is necessary to function. For most, it is not.

    By the time they get to high school, many are dependent on the meds to function.

  • Nope! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:13PM (#30426020) Homepage Journal
    I think the shoddy private insurance plans aren't dishing out enough antipsychotics compared to the better-managed state-run plans. Someone needs to put together a panel to look at ways to get private plans to step up to the plate and start dishing out antipsychotics on par with the state run plan!
    • If you are correct, we should see a case where the antipsychotic drug use is highest among the very rich (who can easily afford the drugs) and those on Medicare. Feel free to chime in with statistics to confirm or deny this prediction.

  • rich v's poor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by naeone (1430095) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:24PM (#30426110)
    if you are rich and mad you are classed as an excentric, and if your poor and mad well you just plain mad
  • Healtscare system.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arikol (728226) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:34PM (#30426178) Journal

    Isn't this just an indicator of how broken the US health care system is.

    I have a hard time imagining this to be a problem in this way in the countries which have good public health systems. I've never had to think about the cost of healthcare, that's what I pay taxes for. My neighbour doesn't have to worry about the cost of healthcare, that's what I pay taxes for.

    We pay damn high taxes. The benefits are pretty big, though and completely worth it.

    I decided to go to University after having worked for over ten years.
    Fees for school?
    Free (for a good university, well, any university).
    That's what I've been paying taxes for.
    The youngsters studying with me. I paid for their tuition too (or took part in that).

    And it pleases me.

  • Drug Lobbies? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:34PM (#30426186) Homepage

    Two possible explanations are offered: 'insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do', and because of 'the challenges that families in poverty may have in consistently attending counseling or therapy sessions, even when such help is available'.

    Interesting explanations, but they ignore the economics and politics of the issue. Medicaid is heavily influenced by politicians. Politicians are heavily influenced by lobbies. Lobbying money flows very heavily from drug companies.

    Run it backwards: Lobbying money flows heavily from drug companies. Politicians are heavily influenced by drug companies. Medicaid is heavily influenced by drug companies.

    There are almost certainly other significant factors at play, but to ignore the influence of drug pushers on our government is stunningly short-sighted.

    Also consider the health care bill: They've removed the public option and kept the new law requiring people to buy health insurance. Who are they working for? I want everyone to have access to health care. This story, however, is a stark example of the risks of channeling public funds to corporations, and of channeling corporate profits to policy-makers. That is a self-reinforcing system that will destroy us.

  • by meehawl (73285) <meehawl.spam@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:41PM (#30426232) Homepage Journal

    The subtext of this story is that medication is bad, that treatment of a disease state with chemicals is sub-optimal. What if the real story here is that middle-class children have a higher probability of being under-medicated and under-treated? They are already under-vaccinated because of bizarre anti-preservative delusions that tend to be associated with higher economic status parents. I've actually met middle-class parents who tried to treat their diabetic children homeopathically. That's a stupidity reserved for those with sufficient income, inappropriate self-esteem and just enough self-regard and personal "knowledge" to be dangerous.

  • I know this from firsthand experience, being an adult in that same system. It's even worse now, because beginning months ago psychological services are no longer covered by my state's Medicaid program, only psychiatric services. The authors of the study weren't keeping up with the ongoing consequences of the recession (no doubt because they're personally insulated from them).

    In other words, pills are still covered by Medicaid, but seeing a shrink isn't. That affects children and adults alike, the the eff

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:57PM (#30426320)

    Is there any allowance for children with mental problems eg.ADHD in the US?

    In the UK it is not unknown for jobless families to seek to get their children diagnosed with ADHD in order to get a Disability Living Allowance. A bonus benifit designed to help pay for the extra care a disabled child would need.

    Of course there is nothing wrong with little Timmy and the parents know this too so they don't give them the pills.

    They do still pick up the prescriptions (to keep the diagnosis going) and drugs but end up dumping them. Occasionally get a bagfull of around a years supply of the stuff left in to the Pharmacy to be disposed of anonymously or worse dumped in the street.

    Sounds cynical of me I know but people aren't beyond pushing their kids to do this when they themselves are very keen to be classed as sick because allowances are higher than those for the well jobless.

  • by praksys (246544) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:37PM (#30426524) Homepage

    I hadn't realized there were so many advantages to having money. Next they'll be telling us that rich people get all the best houses too.

  • emupaul (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_orginal_emupaul (1699686) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @10:24PM (#30427296)
    I went through a mental psychosis episode after mixing music for a windows 7 party i was preparing to hosting & smoking some super strong weed. I peeked and It looked as though I broke enlightenment my room glowed a bright yellow I - then blacked out a few times and had realistic hallucinations even thought a Jay'z and Kayne was having a party out side my door, I told my dad I found jesus and I had him by the balls (was holding two silver zen balls) then eventually woke up on my bed to find my mom sitting on my coach with a bible in her hand. Anyway my mom and dad where very concerned I guess and for some reason or another they took me to the local hospital (Swedish American) then after-wards a cop drove me to the mental institution called H Douglas Singer Mental Health Center (Rockford IL) I was there 9 days but it felt like less I held against my will (its basically a huge prison) Anyway on the day of my release I was prescribed Risperidone 2mil 1in morning 3mil at night for sleep since I have trouble sleeping anyway that drug is not cheap! if your uninsured at walgreens 30pills cost $190. I stopped using cause it was making me feel worse and I was recently prescribed Seroquel 200mg in the morning and 200mg at night it slows my thoughts down so I don't think as fast (racing thoughts that usually focus and 1 2 or 3 words over and over again) anyway I also noticed a minor side effect...I noticed after taking it for a the first week I stopped dreaming it seems I never get to REM. Anyway I really don't know why im sharing this but I read slashdot everyday and never comment and since this was was kind of relevant to some events in my life i thought I would share. There is a lot more to the story I fail to mention only because it would seem to over the top for anyone to believe - "conspiracyish"

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