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Medicine United States Science

US Youth Have Serious Mental Health Issues 818

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-lawn-and-take-your-adhd-meds dept.
Ant writes "Google News carries a Canadian Press report that 'a new study has found that five times as many high school and college students in the United States are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues than youth of the same age who were studied in the Great Depression era. ... Pulling together the data for the study was no small task. Led by [San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge], researchers at five universities analyzed the responses of 77,576 high school or college students who, from 1938 through 2007, took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or MMPI. The results will be published in a future issue of the Clinical Psychology Review. Overall, an average of five times as many students in 2007 surpassed thresholds in one or more mental health categories, compared with those who did so in 1938. A few individual categories increased at an even greater rate — with six times as many scoring high in two areas: 'hypomania,' a measure of anxiety and unrealistic optimism (from 5 per cent of students in 1938 to 31 per cent in 2007), and depression (from 1 per cent to 6 per cent).'"
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US Youth Have Serious Mental Health Issues

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:42AM (#30736874) Journal
    Before you hop all over this like we love to, keep in mind that the article does a pretty good job of representing the skeptical side of this study:

    Though the study, released Monday, does not provide a definitive correlation, Twenge and mental health professionals speculate that a popular culture increasingly focused on the external - from wealth to looks and status - has contributed to the uptick in mental health issues.

    And also:

    The study is not without its skeptics, among them Richard Shadick, a psychologist who directs the counsellingcentre at Pace University in New York. He says, for instance, that the sample data weren't necessarily representative of all college students. (Many who answered the MMPI questionnaire were students in introductory psychology courses at four-year institutions.)

    I have a cute anecdote about a friend who graduated with a psychology degree and left her job as an assistant to become a grade school teacher because most of the psychologists at the Manhattan practice had more psychological problems than their patients.

    Emphasis mine. Now, another interesting thing about Jean Twenge is that the books she writes aren't universally accepted by her peers [nytimes.com]:

    "Generation Me" inspired a slew of articles in the popular press with headlines like "It’s all about me," "Superflagilistic, Extra Egotistic" and "Big Babies: Think the Boomers are self-absorbed? Wait until you meet their kids."

    Ms. Twenge is working on another book with W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia [nytimes.com], this one tentatively called "The Narcissism Epidemic."

    However, some scholars argue that a spike in selfishness among young people is, like the story of Narcissus, a myth.

    "It’s like a cottage industry of putting them down and complaining about them and whining about why they don’t grow up," said Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a developmental psychologist, referring to young Americans. Mr. Arnett, the author of "Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens through the Twenties" (2004, Oxford University Press), has written a critique of Ms. Twenge’s book, which is to be published in the American Journal of Psychology.

    Granted you could claim that this is just one example of two camps infighting in a field that plagues even physics and hard sciences but I think it's important to realize that this study might be a little self serving. Personally I share two concerns. The first being similar to Shadick's in that I'm not sure how these two studies were normalized samples and the second questioning if we have any idea what the 'norm' is for these 'diseases.' How subjective is this test and would a variance of 1% to 6% for depression be unrealistic if we knew that it's been as high as 10% at other points in time between 1938 and 2007?

    The curmudgeon in me wants to chalk this up to kids having it too good these days. No polio to worry about, no eight hour shifts to support the family and more information swarming them. A lot of today's youth have the luxury of being diagnosed with hypomania. Now I know that there are serious cases of depression and always have been ... but sometimes I encounter a youth who says, "My boyfriend just broke up with me and now I sit in my room and listen to depressing music." And they (or their over protective parents) think they need medication for that. They don't. Sounds to me like they need to be picking rock and bailing hay to help take their mind off that. We're overmedicated as it is. If Ms. Twenge continues to push this idea it might just get worse. How many people read news of this study and though "maybe my kid needs to see a psychologist for depression?" It's hard to look past this and assume the motives for this study are pure.

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:53AM (#30737046)

    I know that this data spanned several decades, but one has to wonder what the impact of "teen angst", complete with its own social class (Jock, Geek, "Emo") has now, against a survey like this?

    Yes, large amounts of data through several decades is nice, but when it's now "popular" to act like a Tim Burton character or a "death for true love" torn "Vampire", I can't help but take this data with a grain of salt.

  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:05AM (#30737254) Homepage
    I don't know about sawdust, but whenever I'd complain, my mother would point out that at least I'm not eating Crisco sandwiches. (Not that she ever got quite to that point, but other kids at her school did).

    Take that, Mr. Standard-Of-Living.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:07AM (#30737274)

    To be fair, it's more to do with the inability or unwillingness to think for oneself, instead of blindly going along with whatever government (or any perceived authority) recommends. It's unfortunate, but it's simply human nature. Most human beings are followers, and nobody knows this better than those who a fortune in the business of "leading".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:15AM (#30737400)

    This isn't funny, it's probably true. My father went through the Hungarian revolution, and he has stories of the entire family of 5 splitting one egg for a meal. He has a thing about cleaning off plates. He still (literally!) licks his plate clean at home.

  • by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:16AM (#30737406) Journal
    While searching for a job, I've discovered that many companies desire this "unrealistic optimism." A recruiter I was using sent me a list of questions the company was going to ask me, and "mistakenly" included the correct answers. Questions like, "How important is it for you to be the best?" have answers listed as, "Very important to be the best, not just 'do my best.'" Another question asks, "Are you a perfectionist?" and then lists, "must say yes," as the correct answer.

    I think kids have such "unrealistic optimism" because it's desired in today's society. Unfortunately for me, I found college to be a very humbling experience, and I fear these kids will too.
  • Meta-diagnoses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:17AM (#30737432)

    Autism ... Asperger's ... "AHDHD--Drug him up!"

    The stuff I quoted - today we have these what I call "meta-diagnoses". Some people might actually medically suffer from these, but they are also slapped around negligently with the basic message "something's wrong in you". It's increasingly hard to distinguish whether they really mean anything or not.

    Same thing with the anti-depressants which are distributed like candy. Of course now that we've begun to call mental illness a "disease" it works great for the pharmaceutical companies to sell their crap. Medication for a disease, right. But mostly it's just a wrecked mental state, how can you call that disease?

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:27AM (#30737566) Homepage

    For some reason - even though we live tighter and tighter together in the society of today we also have more pronounced problems with isolation and problems when it comes to mental issues.

    Much of this seems to originate from the scare of child predators and other things. And letting the kids take themselves to school is out of the question due to the car traffic of today.

    This means that even going a block or two is a bad idea for kids today - there may be an accident. There can be kids who don't know crap about the blocks half a mile away from home since to get there they must be driven by car.

    The few lucky kids living in rural parts may still be able to grab a fishing pole and get out of sight for a while. And if they have friends "nearby" they may actually go out and explore their neighborhood and find out what nature has to offer.

    But parents today has to pamper their kids or they will be bad parents. And both parents has to work long hours to keep up the living standard in areas where the cost of living is extreme. So when they are at home the "quality time" is short and intense.

    Add to that the fact that many children's programs on TV contains a lot of violence and action mixed with crap beauty contests and whatever that makes the kids feel like they aren't good enough. And nobody cares until there is a tit flash or other naked skin that's considered indecent - then it's all panic. But ask - how many kids do really care about a naked tit? To kids things that go bang are sexier.

  • "Orchid Children" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RevWaldo (1186281) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:28AM (#30737582)
    An interesting article from The Atlantic [theatlantic.com] discusses a new view of children with genetic dispositions to "flawed" personality traits, such as ADHD. Much of it is based on a long-term study of a captive colony of rhesus monkeys.

    In the barest of nutshells: while many children are like dandelions, and could survive and even prosper in any environment (poor, lousy parents, bad schools, etc.), others are like orchids. Raised in the wrong environment they become screw-ups. Raised in the right environment they thrive, and the traits that are considered flaws become strengths, even allowing them success beyond their dandelion brethren.

    A good read even if you think they're wrong. One nice takeaway from the rhesus monkey study: in the long run, bullies never win.
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:31AM (#30737616) Homepage Journal

    You saved me from making this rant. I would have modded you up, but hey, look at your score already!!

    Yeah, if I were drugged up and pressured to conform, I'd probably be fighting several mental illnesses. Of, to put it more simply, I'd be stark raving crazy.

    Ages ago, I came home from the Navy, and visited with one of my old buddy's sisters. She had a kid in preschool already (I was two years older, and not even married yet) and was giving him his dose of Dilantin. I asked why. The answer was "Without it, he just runs and screams all day!" I asked, "Have you forgotten the way your brothers and I ran and screamed from one end of the county to the other? If we weren't audibly raising hell, our parents came looking for us, because they KNEW we were doing something WRONG!"

    Everyone wants a baby, but no one wants a kid these days.

  • Please die quickly. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FatSean (18753) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:33AM (#30737646) Homepage Journal

    If you want more hardship in your life, go find it. Go join the army or something.

    I consider my 'laziness' to be an adult realization that the 'go go go work till you drop' culture in this country is poisonous.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:36AM (#30737684)

    Yes. It's called purposelessness. Struggling to survive may be unpleasant, but it's a purpose. When everything is handed to you on a silver platter and you are never challenged, there is no obvious purpose to life. You either find a purpose, you become lazy, or you become depressed.

    And somewhat related to this is a possible interpretation of what older generations think is a constant need for praise. I'd suggested that although that's sometimes, possibly usually, the case, in some cases what younger generations want isn't unconditional praise, but honest feedback. If you're trying to find a purpose or think you've found one, you need feedback on the worth of that purpose and how effectively you are fulfilling it. Without feedback there's no way to know if that effort is really a good purpose for life or not. If you think a kid is coming to you just to receive praise, don't brush them off. Give honest feedback, and see what happens.

  • by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:37AM (#30737688) Journal

    Yes it is. It is also very rare and extremely overdiagnosed. As is the case with Aspergers and clinical depression, this trivializes the condition and ultimately hurts those who do have a real problem.

    QFT, as someone who was actually diagnosed with and is a veritable textbook case for Asperger's can attest. Too many people act like jackasses and lean on the crutch "oh, I've got Asperger's", no, you don't have Asperger's disorder, you have Asshole disorder. I have Asperger's, and the few people who know me IRL say I'm a really nice person, just...a bit kooky.

    -uso.

  • by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:38AM (#30737702)
    They tried to tell me my son needed Ritalin and that he had ADHD because he acted up in class and wouldn’t pay attention. I took him home, busted his little butt and things were fine from then on.

    This is a pet peeve of mine. While there are kids that really do need help, too often the system just wants to put a label on the kid and shove a pill down his throat instead od dealing with what is really going on. I had a stepson that was on all that ADHD krud. When we got custody the first thing I did was take him to a new doctor and then started disciplining him when he needed it. He was fine and still is. It is so much easier to not have to deal with a situation, lets just make a generation of zombies and forget about them.
  • Yeah, right... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gillbates (106458) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:41AM (#30737766) Homepage Journal

    Pay is based on accomplishment and achievements...

    No, it is not.

    My investment banker counterpart earns about twice what an engineer does, and does even less work. True, the world does not care about your feelings, but the salary you receive is largely dependent on:

    1. The position you work (or career field), and
    2. How well you can sell yourself to your employer.

    The first is usually a matter of education, the second, largely a matter of confidence.

    One thing that negotiating a higher salary has taught me is that companies will always attempt to hire at the lowest possible salary. Being able to do a job 10 times better than the other guy doesn't mean a thing (wrt salary) if you don't exhibit confidence during the interview. Confidence goes a long way toward convincing an employer that you are worth more than the average guy.

    I realize people *should* be paid in proportion to their ability and work ethic, but that's not how the real world works.

  • by RockoTDF (1042780) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:42AM (#30737780) Homepage
    Was this doctor a pediatrician/general practitioner, someone in the education system, or a psychiatrist? I have noticed a trend (albeit anecdotal) of complaints about children on meds being targeted at doctors without proper behavioral/mental health training.
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:44AM (#30737800) Journal

    I've seen claims that mothers who have a Caesarean section give birth to kids who don' have the ability to handle stress. The theory goes something like: the final pains labor trigger the a release of hormones into the fetus that then give the child the ability to deal with stress. I would also assume that a woman too afraid to go natural might also have a genetic predisposition of an inability to handle stress, but that is my own conjecture.

    Unfortunately all the articles I found to link to are behind a paywall. I did however find this about a possible asthma link [gynob.com]

  • by V50 (248015) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:55AM (#30737994) Journal

    Are you one of those people who refuse to wear a seatbelt?

  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:01PM (#30738086)

    One of the things I find most annoying about Slashdot is the knee-jerk reflex some people have to respond to any unflattering comparison of the present day to some time in the past with, "Get off my lawn!" Yet strangely, when such mockery is genuinely appropriate in response to most of the comments here, it's nowhere to be seen.

    I don't know what parallel universe most of the commenters are coming from -- whether most of them are childless or just get their version of reality from FOX News, I don't know -- but the environment in which my teenager finds herself is highly competitive, not remotely cocooning or coddling, and in many ways significantly more stressful than the one I grew up in. And I don't have her on any medication.

    The thing that strikes me about today's kids is how obsessively schedule-driven they are. My daughter never seems to actually stop thinking about school or what she has to do next, and most of her friends are the same way. I suspect that this is at least partly responsible for the level of anxiety and depression in kids today. Far from lacking competition and discipline, the environment in which they move seems to have a surfeit of it, at least compared to my teenage experience in the 1980's, which was notoriously manic in its time but seems comparatively relaxed today.

  • by ortholattice (175065) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:10PM (#30738264)

    ..teachers who scream "AHDHD--Drug him up!" the first time they act out in class...

    (emphasis mine)

    I see even you have been sucked into the psychobabble. :) When I was a kid it was called "acting up" i.e. misbehaving. Now, its called "acting out", as if any misbehavior at all is caused by deep-rooted emotional problems that are too painful for the child to express directly. So the child "acts them out" indirectly through inappropriate behavior. Often it is accompanied by a subtle suggestion of past abuse or neglect to guilt out the parents.

  • by z80kid (711852) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:16PM (#30738362)
    > but that one about the bike helmet just outright seemed silly.

    And hence, you miss the OP's point entirely.

    Each individual restriction has some benefit, and may have even saved some people some misery. And each one may make sense - depending on how much you value freedom vs safety.

    As a kid, I had a pocket knife and a bb gun (later a .22). I worked for local farmers and rode (on the public road) on top of hay wagons and in the backs of pickup trucks. My folks let me wander off some pretty long distances without them. Much of what I did as a kid would not be allowed today for safety reasons. And that has probably saved somebody some grief, or maybe even their life.

    But if I'd grown up in the same situation today, I imagine I'd probably have spent all day with the TV and Playstation. I'd have been safe, but out of my mind with boredom.

  • by AP31R0N (723649) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:01PM (#30739186)

    Mod parent down for grossly exaggerating. Cases of over diagnosis/treatment are rare in the real world. Any doctor worth a damn will only medicate kids with a real problem. i think you're reacting to something that isn't as real as you think it is. We have a tendency to hear/think about negative things far more than positive. You won't hear about the 10 kids whose lives radically improved after being treated, only about the 1 kid that was misdiagnosed. If that rare misdiagnosis twists your panties you're going to think about it every time the matter appears (and ignore pounds of case files about proper treatment).

    Some kids DO have these conditions. Some kids will cope, others will spend their lives struggling. Our prisons are packed with people who have these conditions and weren't diagnosed or treated. My own life could have been radically different if i had been diagnosed. i went to school under people who "think" like you do. So i was "undisciplined and lazy". With treatment i could have earned the grades to go to college with scholarships instead of doing four years in the USAF followed by borrowing $30K.

    Much of this cavalier attitude you're showing comes from ignorance backed by a religious belief that humans are meat occupied by spirits. That all we do is a matter of choice and will. When the reality is that we're only meat. With the addition or removal of this or that chemical we can make a person more or less violent, attentive, horny or whatever. We can herd the cats in people heads to help them deal with a world that doesn't care if someone keeps changing the channel in their head. Consciousness can only do so much.

    i'd love to be as disciplined and awesome as you are, but my brain works like a radio in scan mode. Ever few seconds the channel changes without any input from me. Without medication sleep i get about 4 hours of sleep per day because the noise will not stop. But the rest of the world is like you, they don't get it, and they don't give a shit. They don't care that i'm reliving conversations from 15 years ago while they are talking to me. All they care about is that i forgot what they said. If only i could be as attentive and perfect as you!

    As for helmets... brain injuries are often permanent and life altering. It is a risk that just isn't worth taking. A helmet is tiny thing to require. Do you wear your seatbelt or are you so tough that you could just walk it off after slamming your head into a windshield at 50 MPH? Wow, you are so cool.

    i will agree with you that some parents are over protective and paranoid with regards to kidnapping and molesters and the like. i was allowed to range far and wide as a kid. i didn't have to go far to encounter a molester, he was right next door which is more typical than the "guy in the van". Kids should be allowed a long enough leash to learn how to handle themselves.

    On the matter of cocooning and protecting them from challenge, i agree. Giving kids challenges and allowing them to make decisions is usually great for their development. As long as some responsible adult is there to make sure it's not TOO stupid.

    The third sentence from the end highlights your ignorance with a search light and flashing neon arrows. You say that they shouldn't be taking medication for anything less than a physical problem. ADD, ADHD, Aspergers and the like ARE PHYSICAL PROBLEMS. Your brain is part of your body. Those conditions are as physical as diabetes.

    The last sentence makes me wonder if you're trolling. It's so unhinged that it seems like satire or concern trolling.

    Become less ignorant:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9679423 [nih.gov]
    http://www.crimetimes.org/02b/w02bp1.htm [crimetimes.org]
    http://www.bhsi.org/stats.htm [bhsi.org]
    http://enhs.umn.edu/current/6120/bicycle/index.html [umn.edu]

  • by atomic777 (860023) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:13PM (#30739380)
    If ever there was a post i wish i could mod up...

    I believe we are seeing a large-scale, mental health version of the tragedy of the commons that has gone completely unregulated and will likely end even worse than the unregulated financial mess we're dealing with now. An ever-escalating war for the ever-decreasing attention span our mush-like minds still have left.

    Media and advertising companies have incentives to continue to use ever more intrusive tactics to get access to our minds, and now the analytical tools to optimize those tactics. When I lived in LA, i was amazed that in some areas around hollywood I found it actually dangerous to drive, because every now and then BOOM, there's a 100ft tall poster of basically a naked woman advertising some brand of jeans or whatever. Equally potent for men and women -- the jeans you need to wear if you want the guys to want you, ladies, and to the men, a mental cue: this is what you should want.
  • by cenc (1310167) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:18PM (#30739476) Homepage

    I am serious. I left the United States in my early 20's for good, and all my mental health problems started going away. I am happy, healthy, less stressed, sleeping good, eating proper food, more successful, and most importantly less paranoid about every little frigen thing around me. It has take years however to repair the damage caused by living in the U.S., but I continue to see it in Americans that leave the United States for good all the time vs. those that are just on vacation. They go through a decompression process that progressively that typically takes at least a couple of years for them to "normalize" when they are adults. When kids move out before the teenage years are over, they are well adjusted, happy, more engaged in the World around them.

    American culture is really really one of the sickest cultures I have seen anywhere in the World, and most of the damage is done in the teenage years. Any parent that sends their kids to a U.S. school, should be arrested for child abuse.

  • by The Spoonman (634311) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:35PM (#30739740) Homepage
    Stop being a bunch of wussies!

    I see someone just finished their copy of How To Win Friends and Influence People.

    Seriously, kids today have to wear helmets just to ride a bike

    Bicycle helmets reduce the severity of head injuries in an accident by 88%, so what's your point?

    have some pediatrician putting them on powerful Autism medication if they don't start talking at just the right time

    My daughter is 20 months old. Her "best friend" is the same age. My daughter has a huge vocabulary already, her friend doesn't speak at all. The friend was taken to her pediatrician, who FIRST tested to make sure she wasn't deaf. She was then sent to a child psychologist to determine her mental facilities. At that point, she was put into a speech therapy program where she has been taught sign language in order to communicate. That, BTW, is the standard protocol used when a child hasn't started speaking at an appropriate time. Is it true that some pediatricians will resort to medicinal treatments first? Sure, but they are the extreme exception not the norm. Your statement is blatent fear-mongering with no factual basis.

    are diagnosed with Asperger's the second they show the least bit of shyness

    Pure bullshit.

    are taught by teachers who scream "AHDHD--Drug him up!" the first time they act out in class

    You must be a farmer, 'cause you're just full of bullshit. First of all, ADHD (you'd think someone who wants to come off as intelligent would have no problem spelling an ACRONYM!) is a very real issue. As someone who has it, my first response to ADHD deniers is to tell you to fuck off. My second is to lambaste you for stupid statements like the above. Teachers have no say in if a child is placed on drugs. Teachers will refer students who are consistently poor performers, not those who simply "act out" once. They're then tested to ensure there are no underlying impediments to learning and if there are, they're treated. I'll break out the important point you're choosing to overlook:

    Medicinal treatments for learning disorders are prescribed so that all children, regardless of ability, are given the chance to learn the same as those who do not have the disability.

    and come home to parents who think that a child molester is hanging out on ever street corner just waiting to kidnap their kid. *They're* not the ones who are screwed up, it's the adults around them that are screwed up.

    On this, we can agree that the chance of a child being kidnapped is less than their chance of being killed in a terrorist attack (which is fairly close to nil itself). That being said, the percentage of parents who spend any real mental effort worrying about such things is even smaller. Yes, as a parent, I've used the resources on the Internet to find out what kinds of sex offenders are close by, but don't check regularly.

    JUST LET THEM BE KIDS, for Christ sake! Stop acting like there is something wrong with them because they're not perfect, or act differently than you expect, or make stupid mistakes.

    The problem, dear dimwit, is that you have made up a world in which all parents spend all of their time doting on their children and completely missed the point of the article that these same children ARE dealing with significant issues. Your desire to simply ignore the problem in the hopes it will go away is the ignorant position.

    BTW, forgot to ask the obvious question: how many kids do you have? I have a feeling it won't be a positive number. People will inane opinions like yours never have kids.

    A kid shouldn't be taking medication for anything less than a serious physical problem.

    Because of ignorant dimwits like you spreading bullshit like this, the kids in the article are suffering with issues that can easily be treated both by talk therapy and medicine. Your whole point is "parents are ignorant and don't know how to raise their kids", but really it's you who has absolutely no idea what they're talking about.
  • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnu. o r g> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:13PM (#30740346) Homepage

    I think you good a good point. I think I have a good counterpoint. I also think the best point is somewhere in between: figuring out where your point applies, where mine applies, and where some compromise or alternative applies.

    Stop being a bunch of wussies!

    Agreed---to the extent that this is the right solution. Some people need to stop being wussies.

    A kid shouldn't be taking medication for anything less than a serious physical problem. You don't give a kid powerful psychotropic drugs just because they're rebellious or shy.

    That's an interesting opinion. Is that based on any evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of the "null" treatment plan? Does it depend on what the psychiatric diagnosis is?

    In any case, on to what I think people may want to think about:

    Some people really need help!

    It may very well be that people are being overdiagnosed. But some people are being diagnosed correctly.

    Imagine being bullied every day; each day someone makes fun of you for no reason. They criticize your clothing, your hair, your way of speech, anything, everything. Nobody helps you, even when you cry for help. Nobody comes and talks to you. Nobody tries to be your friend.

    Might you start to get the impression that nobody likes you? Or that nobody will ever like you? Nobody will ever love you?

    Will that make you shy away from trying to make friends? From asking girls out on a date? Will your subsequent loneliness and lack of affection, love and sex throw you into a depression? Will it make you commit suicide?

    If there's a person in this situation, do you think they deserve help? If they could be made less shy, could be taught to approach people and say "Hi, I see you're into ${interest} too. Want to hang out and ${interest} some time?" or "Would you go out with me?" (and have someone answer yes), and that makes said person happy and have a normal (if modest) social and romantic life, isn't that an improvement?

    Granted, just because someone calls you ugly and you feel unhappy about it for a few days doesn't mean you should be doped up and talk to a shrink. But if you get into a negative spiral, you should be pulled out.

    They'll have plenty of time to dope themselves into a stupor and cry at a psychologist's office when they're adults.

    Why not intervene early? If you have poor social skills which causes rejection which causes fewer opportunities to practice your social skills which causes poor social skills---and so forth in a negative spiral---wouldn't you want to be pulled out of it sooner rather than later?

    For those who really need help, what you're suggesting is postponing treatment until the condition has worsened and the patient has suffered a very unhappy childhood and adolescence.

    You don't want that to happen to anyone, do you?

  • by Reziac (43301) * on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:25PM (#30740564) Homepage Journal

    This reminds me of a study a while back that concluded that kids actually do NOT get a "sugar high". And on thinking about that...

    Adults eat 3 times a day. But that's not often enough for kids. By the time the next meal rolls around they've run out of fuel and are dragging. Give 'em sugar and that fuel is replenished (remember, everything in your body ultimately runs on sugar), and they rebound to the merely NORMAL kid energy level, which is a LOT more than most modern adults think. (At least, now that we're all supposed to be full-time couch potatoes and never go outdoors.)

  • Re:And? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reziac (43301) * on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:43PM (#30740852) Homepage Journal

    Maybe not. Have you ever watched how other animals deal with each other? They hit, bite, kick, scratch, and generally knock each other around, both for fun and to discipline an underling. And they don't wind up "scarred for life" by it. Why are humans so fragile??

    I think the truth is that we're NOT, and that a certain level of interpersonal violence is actually normal, simply because we're animals, and that's how animals instinctively behave.

    Hell, watch how children discipline one another when there's no adult intervention -- one hits, the other hits back; the first learns that there are direct consequences to being a jerk, and the 2nd learns that it's okay to defend yourself. But if an adult intervenes, the first kid fails to receive the lesson (other than "don't let 'em see you do it"), and the 2nd learns to be a victim. This is a recipe for creating bullies and wimps, but it won't lead to normally-adjusted kids who figure out that you can only go so far before you reap consequences.

    Until less than a century ago, this is how most kids grew up. Then we started overprotecting all the kids just like some pampered royalty had been, and now what? We have a generation of spoiled brats and victims, and now we're seeing the consequences of these maladjusted children raising children.

    As to violence that goes too far and kills someone -- all species engage in a certain amount of culling behaviour, and human children are no different. A child that is "odd" or sub-normal will get picked on by other kids, because instinct says "cull the weakling". But now we rescue those weaklings, because it's not PC to let anyone be maltreated. While this benefits those weaklings, what is it doing to our society and our gene pool, over the long term?? Nothing good, I suspect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:54PM (#30740994)

    Obsessively schedule-driven is not the same as competitive, nor necessarily disciplined. Although punctuality implies at least some level of discipline, unless the kid themselves are drawing up and implementing the schedules, it doesn't mean much. If someone else is doing all the scheduling, that just means someone else is doing all the thinking and planning for them, and they're just following instructions.

    If they're being kept constantly in motion moving from micro-managed pre-planned activity to micro-managed pre-planned activity, how do you expect them to ever be able to think and plan for themselves? Or be at ease with doing something without being told when and what to do?

    This kind of silliness seems to be just as long-term poisonous as the general attitude the GP describes. The US seems to be a mix of both, depending on location and demographic.

    "There are only two places in our world where time takes precedence over the job to be done: school and prison." William Glasser

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @03:48PM (#30741778)
    I'm not into psychology, but I find it interesting. My findings (no citations or references, just my opinion) are:
    1. Human brains like challenges and are always looking for problems to solve. You give a person a happy life and that person will find a way to find problems so it will need to solve.
    2. The exercise to me, helps to relieve that need of the brain to look for challenges and problems to solve.
    3. If you or your kid doesn't do exercise or properly challenge itself, it will find another way, probably getting into troubles.
    4. I believe most of humans have a trend to become obsessive at something. Some would be bad, some others, may not sound "that bad". Some for example could be addicted to heroin, some others to work or programming.
    The "media" era, has caused that these addictions can be easily obtained online. (Porn, movies, music, news, flaming, trolling). The moment they make this access more complicated (no internet at home, no TV), the person will probably tend to do different things, which could keep it out of trouble and challenged. Watching movies or TV for extended periods of time, give the time to the brain also to look for problems, given that this type of activity requires little brain activity.

    I'm certainly not an expert (although in /. everyone is), but I hope I can challenge my kids in different ways, and keep them a schedule, so they can do different things. And I need to promise myself too, that I will stay away of some of these no-brain activities too.
  • by turbidostato (878842) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:49PM (#30742520)

    "I'm not going to put words in your mouth"

    But you seem to do it quite good.

    "but if you are also of the belief"

    He isn't.

    "that depressed people need to cheer up and autistic kids just need a slap upside the head"

    He don't think so. Instead, he does think (and so do I) that most children diagnosed autistic, depressed or hiperactive are not but just children in all his glory diversity and/or without enough careness.

    I also have my own opinions about why a doctor would tend to diagnose something to belong to his discipline (for a man with a hammer...) or why pharmas would prefer 30% of global population consuming their pills instad of only 1% or why overburdened/careless parents would prefer to cope with their children by means of pills instead of their own energy and/or why they prefer to hear that any misconduct from their breed is not their fault but some illness out of their control.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:56PM (#30742582)
    We learn by making mistakes Well, those that survive do, anyway...

    I think the problem you're hinting at is that with smaller and smaller families, kids are no longer considered expendable.
  • by binaryartist (1172973) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @05:04PM (#30742682)
    I dont know if anyone wondered whether a test used 1938 would be relevant in 2010? For eg: If a kid was question about being gay in 1938 and if he thought that being gay was OK, he would have been judged abnormal...I would guess? This question does not make much sense in the world today
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @05:15PM (#30742806) Journal

    Kids today get emo and suicidal because they have been given everything

    I strongly disagree. I was extremely fortunate and had an excellent childhood. Certainly I never wanted for the essentials and had plenty of toys, games etc. However, growing up the the UK of the 70's and 80's, I also had limits. If I messed around at school I got into trouble with the teachers, if I got unruly at home I got into trouble with my parents. The problem I see today is that kids actions have no real consequences: somehow it is never their fault its a "syndrome" or a mental health problem or whatever.

    If your actions never have consequences then is it any wonder people lose the will to live and develop mental health issues? After all life is all about interacting with society and changing things. Of course having consequences also means that sometimes you are wrongly punished: someone will lie about what you did, you won't be believed etc. but, while you obviously want to minimize this (so no crazy "zero tolerance" policies), I really believe that this is a good thing in the end because it gives kids a practical lesson in WHY they need to behave e.g. make sure that you behave honestly so that people will believe you when it really matters, always treat people fairly because it makes you really mad when you are not treated fairly etc. The problem is that nowadays this is hard to implement because kids parents call in the lawyers and you end up with judges applying laws intended to deal with adult crimes and not with kids misbehaving at school or in public.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @06:24PM (#30743690)
    Give me a break. I am 23 years old. I was born in the 80's and went to college in the latter half of the 2000's. I just completed my Bachelor's degree a year and a half ago. Most of my friends are still in college or are just now graduating. I am a part of this generation that the study seems to declare as having serious mental health problems. I call bullshit. But, as another poster pointed out, some other psychologists have also called bullshit on this study and it seems, at best, to be a semi-accurate or maybe best guess look at the mental faculties of my generation.

    So, instead of wasting my time typing a rebuke to study created by self-reported statistics, I am going to waste my time rebuking half of the old crotchety wanks that have declared my generation, my peers, to be a bunch of narcissistic, incompetent, entitled, whiny brats. To each and every one of you old fogies that are so convinced that everything wrong with our generation comes from bad parenting and a lack of hardship and what not, let me ask you, "How many folk below the age of 25 or so do you spend time with on a daily basis? As a peer?"

    Honestly, to all of you who are bemoaning my generation, answer me that question. I would wager that very few of you actually work on a daily basis with folk my age or younger. I, personally, hang out with people my age and younger every day. I don't spend time with them trying to teach them. I don't spend time with them judging them. I spend time hanging out with them, meeting them, getting to know them, laughing, crying, fighting, and working together with them. And you know what? My anecdote says that we are a pretty damned impressive lot of individuals. We face difficult challenges every day, for instance: "Should I continue working on this paper that is due in four hours or should I eat? Well, I haven't eaten since yesterday, but if I don't finish this paper and crash my grade, it will cost me another semester of school and another $15,000. Yeah, I can skip meals for another day, I am not starving yet."

    Or my favorite one. For those of us that are competent and happy and fed and living peacefully, how about all of the in-your-face, "What are you doing to save these starving children in Abu Dhabi? Or save those dogs that are being beaten to death by drug peddling masters? Or, why aren't you trying to save the world from Global Warming, Darfur evil people, zombie H1N1 flu, etc etc etc.?" In other words, even when kids in my generation get to the point where they are comfortable and supporting themselves, we are not allowed any peace. Rather we are guilted into thinking that unless we are saving the world every waking minute, we are horribly corrupt evil bastards that deserve fire and brimstone. Yup, that's easy to cope with, just stop sleeping and enjoying any free time, then you will be a good person.

    Of course that's not all. We also have to face the constant question as to whether or not our genitals, and any attention we give them, will be our black ticket to hell for eternity. And don't think that question remains in the realm of the church goers. No, now those zealous asshats are on the streets telling me that I am a sinner and will burn a fiery death for looking at the blonde walking by. So what do I do? Should I punch the doofus in the face for being an asshole? Nah, then I get arrested for assault, labeled as a felony committer for life, and raped for the next 3-5 in prison.

    This leads me to my next point. Even if we see something wrong with our environment, there is a legitimate chance that whatever we do to workaround said concern will come with punishments like unpayable financial burdens or a few years of getting our asses beat up and down the cell block because we just had to deal with some business. Yup, that's fair, create a world in which 90% of the stuff that is the most 'in-your-face' sucks, and then punish us for trying to change anything.

    So what am I getting at? Am I just whining that oh we have it so much harder than anyone seems to
  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:09PM (#30744248) Homepage

    My understanding is that the emotional trauma of a punishment has a lot to do with the culture in which it happens. In a culture where spanking is the norm, a kid who gets spanked has received the standard, culturally approved punishment, and is therefore still in the good graces of the culture. In a culture where it is almost unheard of, being the recipient of a spanking is a sign that you have done something exceptionally awful, and therefore that your place within the society was at risk.

    At least, that was my interpretation of something Jared Diamond once tried to say. It kind of makes sense. My family didn't spank, as a rule. That's probably why I remember vividly every one of the exceptions to that rule.

  • by jafac (1449) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:02PM (#30745490) Homepage

    I think it's really mostly just a matter of opinion, or point-of-view.

    The most toxic attitude I see most people having, is this horrid irrational fear that they're a selfish person, or too self-centered or not good enough, not likeable enough, don't pay enough attention to other people's "moods" or "signals", don't fulfill our partner's "wants" and "needs" - - - and then they madly scramble around trying to make other people happy, because they believe that is the key to their own happiness. And every religion - on the SURFACE, preaches this crap too. And it's complete bullshit.

    Do what they tell you in the pre-flight safety briefing. In case of sudden loss of cabin pressure, put your own damn oxygen mask on FIRST. THEN help the person next to you (if they need it). Because if you try to help the other person, and fail, then you both fucking DIE.

    I mean, there's this email thing. If we don't check our email enough, we're terrified we're going to miss someone's important email, and offend someone, miss an important opportunity. TV? If we miss that one episode of Glee, then tomorrow at work, when everyone's talking about it, you're going to be standing there like a dork. Excluded. Ostracized. Like those nerds in glee club back in high school. Money? Hey, let's all talk about the car we bought last year. And of course - it LOOKS like selfishness, but it's not. It's people - in sheer terror of that inner-critic, telling them they're not a good-enough person. The disease is anti-selfishness. It's overcompensation for a perceived weakness, that for most people, just isn't there.

    And our culture reinforces it, it's a closed feedback loop. Because it sells stuff. And keeps people employed. And keeps us prosperous. So we can maybe get that Lexus with the leather seats next year, instead of cloth. So our peers will like us. Because that's what the commercial implies.

    Depression?

    It has nothing to do with drugs, or bicycle helmets, or being selfish, or not trusting God, or not contemplating one's navel, or not thinking positively, or having parents who were narcissistic (except in the capacity that they're too damn ashamed to face their own imaginary demons to be authentic with their kids, and modeling that emotional authenticity for them). Is it neurotransmitters? Or is overactive neurotransmitter reuptake another symptom?

    What's the solution?

    There is no solution. We, as a culture, self-destruct. (hopefully). That's the path most of us are on, as individuals.

  • Re:And? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:24AM (#30750934) Homepage Journal

    Have you ever watched how other animals deal with each other? They hit, bite, kick, scratch, and generally knock each other around, both for fun and to discipline an underling.

    A mother cat will discipline her kitten by slapping it on the head. Kittens play similarly, as do adult cats. But they don't kill, maim, or seriously hurt their offspring unless they're mentally unbalanced, just like humans. I'm not one of those who is against corporal punishment so long as it's done right; spanking with a hand is good parenting, beating with a belt is not.

    Children don't discipline each other -- they fight, just as violent adults do. I won't forget the 7th grade when I was bullied by a kid taller and heavier than me, until he crossed the line and hit me. I beat the holy hell out of him. I got a swat for my troubles, he got eighteen swats. And I got respect from the other kids after that.

    A child that is "odd" or sub-normal will get picked on by other kids, because instinct says "cull the weakling".

    Unlike other species, we're supposed to have the intellect to overcome our instincts. If we didn't, rape would be the primary means of copulation.

    it's not PC to let anyone be maltreated.

    PC or not I don't like to see anyone get mistreated. And the only thing I care about the human gene pool is that my genes are passed on. We are at the stage of controlling our own evolution, and on the cusp of being able to engineer undesirable traits out.

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