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

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

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

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

Drug Class:                                Age Group:          Number of People:

All Psychiatric Drugs               0-5 Years                       622,723

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

                                                        0-1 Years               125,361

                                                        2-3 Years               202,319

                                                        4-5 Years               306,079                 

                                                       6-12 Years            3,259,955 

                                                      13-17 Years           3,419,633

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

Questions to ask:

  • How is it possible that we have 125,361 infants on psychiatric drugs?
  • Why are we asking 633,759 preschool children to take psychiatric drugs?
  • Why is there a huge jump to 3,259,955 in the elementary school years?
  • Why does this number barely increase in the high school years?

Drug Class:                                Age Group:          Number of People:

ADHD Drugs                               0-5 Years                80,235

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

                                                      0-1 Years                     328                           

                                                      2-3 Years                     1,919

                                                      4-5 Years                     77,396                      

                                                      6-12 Years                  2,119,343

                                                     13-17 Years                 1,524,381

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

Question to ask:

  • Why does ADD medicine represent 50% plus of the childhood medications being given to children in the USA?
  • Why do the numbers on ADD meds decline in the high school years?

adhd-chartTo Consider when using medication, and children by developmental stages:

  • The stimulant in ADD childhood medications may cause adverse effects such as depression, anxiety, and aggression.  
  • The drugs may stifle positive creative and social behaviors in the child, creating zombie-like behaviors.
  • ADD meds may limit the social and psychological capacities of the child.
  • These childhood medications have a chequered history of helping academic performance in the long term.
  • The diagnosis of ADHD may negatively impact the child’s sense of personal responsibility for his behaviors
  • The diagnosis of ADHD may undermine parental responsibility for finding non-medical parenting alternatives
  • The diagnosis of ADHD discourages teachers from seeking alternative ways to deal with classroom issues and of relying too much on childhood medications.

Drug Class:                                Age Group:          Number of People:

Antidepressants                      0-5 Years                 38,534

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

                                                      0-1 Years                     6,687                           

                                                      2-3 Years                     10,957

                                                     4-5 Years                      21,299                         

                                                     6-12 Years                  574,090

                                                     13-17 Years              1,503,185

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


  • How is it possible to have 6,687 infants on antidepressants?
  • Why are 38,534 children aged 5 and below on medications?
  • Why the 300% increase in the high school years?

To Consider:

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

Drug Class:                                Age Group:          Number of People:

Antipsychotics                         0-5 Years                 85,143

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

                                                          0-1 Years                    3,913         

                                                          2-3 Years                    27,001

                                                          4-5 Years                    53,750       

                                                          6-12 Years                  467,500

                                                          13-17 Years                646,215

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

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

To Consider:

  • Medications were prescribed far more frequently for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and for disruptive behavior than for the disorders for which they were intended: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.
  • Antipsychotic medications can produce serious physical issues in children.
  • Less than 25 percent of prescribed children had any therapy services
  • Prescribing antipsychotics seems predominantly aimed at aggressive and impulsive behaviors, especially in boys.
  • Antipsychotic disorders such as bipolar disorder arise in adulthood, not childhood.

Drug Class:                                Age Group:          Number of People:

Anti-anxiety                               0-5 Years                   389,558

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

                                                       0-1 Years                     102,96               

                                                       2-3 Years                    148,894

                                                       4-5 Years                     143,69               

                                                       6-12 Years                  484,61

                                                      3-17 Years                   577,259

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


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

To Consider:

  • Anti-anxiety drugs may have a negative, but not serious, physical impact on your child
  • Teaching your child to deal with anxiety when it hits has positive long-term effects.

At Confident Parenting, we understand that childhood medication can be a genuine alternative for some.

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

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

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

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

pill-bottleWe believe at Confidential Parents that pharmaceuticals should not be the easy answer to raising our more needy children.

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

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

  • In the short term, for some children, their childhood medication will have a positive impact, reducing some of the negative behaviors.
  • Over time, however, many childhood medications lose their effectiveness
  • There is no evidence in the research that childhood medications are addictive
  • A 2008 study found that fewer than half of the individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder actually had the illness- getting a second opinion is vital before prescribing childhood medications.
  • Psychiatric medication should never be a substitute for teaching kids self-regulation or to sedate a child who is causing problems at home or school.
  • The biggest danger is that we do not know what we do not know about the long-term effects of many childhood medications.

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

However, children are being misdiagnosed in a desire for a quick fix;  many go underdiagnosed, and others are being overdiagnosed.

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