Breaking news from the New York Times – Should We Be Scared?

The New York Times published the above piece over the weekend that really got my attention. Matt Ritchel wrote about a teenager who was prescribed 10 different medications for her mental health condition. A headline that shocked many did not surprise me in the least. What is interesting to me is that now people are talking about it. Let us talk about how we treat teenagers for their big feelings in their developing hormonal brains. There is a LOT going on there.

There is a temptation to find the quick fix. The problem is, there is no such thing as a magic pill when it comes to adolescent mental health. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked with many quality adolescent and even pediatric psychiatrists who do a WONDERFUL job making a horrible situation better. Medication is not the enemy. However, I have worked with adolescents as a therapist and commonly hear complaints about side effects that seem to exacerbate what was already a problem. Weight gain in the age of social media can be a serious problem, especially with eating disorders being as prevalent as they are. The question I ask myself is what’s wrong with talking more and prescribing less until we know how these drugs will affect vulnerable brains? When safety is a concern, sometimes medication is a difference between life and death. But, sometimes it really just isn’t. And that is where I find myself now as a clinician who has to know when to refer to a psychiatrist. It is a delicate balance that I know is a struggle for many.

I encourage you to really talk to your therapist and physician if you’re concerned about side effects. There are many great doctors out there who will take those concerns seriously and our team is always happy to work with them. The New York Times is doing a lot of reporting on the adolescent mental health crisis, but it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the bad news. Remember, there are a lot of helpers out there who have been ready to talk about this for a while. Do your research, talk about how you are feeling, and talk to a psychiatrist or trusted physician if you are concerned about what your medication may be doing to you. Also remember, there are plenty of therapists out there who know how to help you navigate big feelings.


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