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(Canada) Quebec doctors alarmed over meds given for ADHD; may be masking mental health issues

Jan 31, 2019, Montreal Gazette: Quebec pediatricians raise alarm about over-medication of children https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/quebec-pediatricians-raise-alarm-about-over-medication-of-children The group says the use of drugs to treat behavioural problems has become much too common. A group of 48 pediatricians and researchers is denouncing the sharp increase in the number of Quebec children being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the use of medication to treat it. The group is calling on everyone involved — including parents, teachers, psychologists and doctors — to rethink their decision making when it comes to whether a child should be medicated to treat behavioural problems. … Among 10- to 12-year-olds, 13.97 per cent of young people use psychostimulant medications in Quebec. That rate rises to 14.5 per cent among 13- to 17-year-olds. In the rest of the country, rates for the same age groups are just 5.08 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively. Pediatrician Guy Falardeau says the trend is worrying because it shows parents are increasingly trying to treat children with medication instead of looking for other causes related to mental health, emotions and the child’s social environment. When a child has a behavioural issue, we prefer to just call it ADHD and give them medication.” “When a child has a behavioural issue, we prefer to just call it ADHD and give them medication instead of questioning why they’re acting the way they are,” Falardeau said. “The danger is that in some cases we’re actually treating ADHD, but in others, we’re simply masking a mental health issue.” Falardeau warns that masking anxiety or other disorders with medication ends up postponing the moment when the issue inevitably explodes. Mental illnesses are harder to treat the longer they’ve had to progress, he noted. … “What we want is for children to be properly assessed,” he said. “We must help those who have emotional or social issues, not change the child’s behaviour with medication.”