Study Shows Ritalin Use Doubles in Children of Divorce: But the Question Remains ‘Why'
When a new study comes out showing that Ritalin use doubles in children of divorce, it is easy to assume the very public perception that divorce does a child 'bad.' But is it really that simple?
Below, Professor Lisa Strohschein asks the following question: ‘Is it possible that divorce acts as a stressful life event that creates adjustment problems for children, which might increase acting out behavior, leading to a prescription for Ritalin?’
Or as this blogger puts it so well:
People often use psychiatric diagnoses as if they’re explanations when really they’re nothing more than descriptions. The idea is that science will ‘fill in the gaps’ and explain how these differences occur.
The trouble is, the behaviour described by an ADHD diagnosis could occur because of genetic influences on brain development, because divorce is causing emotional distress, because the child is being bullied, or for any number of other reasons.
Ritalin is likely to help regardless of what is causing the child to be disturbed, because it helps the child focus by boosting attention.
The question is, should children be prescribed drugs because they are distressed by a divorce? There’s no definite answer in every case as each child and each situation is different.
But perhaps we should be concerned that children are likely being prescribed psychiatric drugs as a ‘quick fix’ for emotional distress and behaviour problems when research shows that parent training programs are safe and effective.