Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mental as anything

When we are discussing mental illness in children, something like this needs to be taken into account.

There are two explanations for an increase in diagnoses of mental disorders in children. The first is that for some reason mental disorders are more common today than they were, say, 20 years ago. If this is true, we would need to look at reasons for it. The obvious suspect would be increased exposure to TV and video games, but other reasons might spring to mind.

However, I doubt that there is any huge increase in mental illness, and the truth is probably that the second reason applies: doctors are diagnosing more disorders than they used to. The diagnostic criteria for many disorders have changed, although not so much that you would expect huge leaps in numbers diagnosed. But mental illness has become more salient in public discourse, so it is perfectly possible that whereas a doctor would prescribe just getting the fuck over it to a teen a few years back, now they will take the teen's complaint more seriously and treat them for depression.

Probably, the teen should just get the fuck over it. Life has its ups and downs, and the more you live it, the clearer you are on that. It's particularly tough on adolescents, who have to adjust to a change in status, and are approaching the time when they must leave the nest. It shouldn't be underestimated how painful it can be for a cosseted kid to have to leave the home in which they are comfortable.

Mental illness is a thorny area. Diagnosis is necessarily subjective. We don't have an organic test for depression, and a doctor must interpret what the patient is telling them. Patients are notoriously bad at describing their symptoms. It goes without saying that teens are prone to exaggerate their mental states: we all wrote awful poetry when we were 16 that quite likely portrayed our lives as three degrees worse than they really were. Making and losing friends, for instance, are emotional minefields for kids; when you're older, you've been there, done that.

The lack of understanding of the organic basis for mental disorder prevents us from being clear on whether kids are being correctly diagnosed as disordered, or whether they are just having the same ups and downs that everyone goes through, but not coping too well. It's particularly a concern that throwing heavy-duty psychoactives at a child's brain might not be helping, but rather might be making things worse. We simply do not know enough about the organic basis of mental illness.

This should be borne in mind when reading that mental illness has risen in children, and particularly when linking that to a cause. The temptation for interpreters of scientific studies is to make two and two equal four. Rat studies might show that THC damages x receptors; studies of kids might show that heavy skunk smoking damages x receptors; more kids have mental illness. But the rats will have been given proportionately more THC than you'd smoke in a lifetime; the damage to the kids' receptors will be marginal; and we have no idea that that marginal damage translates into mental illness because we have no model for how the two are connected, if they're connected.

Could an environmental factor such as smoking weed increase mental illness? Of course it could. It would certainly be good public health policy to educate kids on the potential dangers of it (although it should be clear from what I've said that it is very difficult to give honest education to kids when we don't know that there is any danger, what level is dangerous or how one thing is linked to the other, if it is). It is a good idea to steer kids away from heavily abusing anything: alcohol, tobacco, food, weed, E. And antidepressants. Weed is vaguely correlated with increased mental disorder in children, but Prozac is proven to cause it! Yet there is no outcry to ban Prozac.

Well, it's not very enjoyable. This remains the basis of the moral panic over cannabis: the fear that kids are enjoying themselves. Weed does have its downside: the slow starts in the mornings are the worst of it for me. But I have a slow start if I drink too much too. And the bottom line is that the wowsers do not want others to enjoy something they don't: it's the same reason they hate gayness, smoking, anything that they are afraid of for themselves.


At 10:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"1)Weed is vaguely correlated with increased mental disorder in children, but Prozac is proven to cause it!
2)Yet there is no outcry to ban Prozac."

1) The Correlation between Weed and mental illness is by no means vague you only choose to see it as Vague.

2)There certainly is an outcry against widespread prescription of Prozac to children, the evidence is very easy to find.

You are using Spin.

"Weed does have its downside"

It has many, for me the worst is that it is contributing towards yet more dumbing down of the young people going through the already dumbed down education system. Governments like a dumb populace of course. It makes them more compliant.

At 8:33 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here you can dismiss this evidence as well!!


At 9:02 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

1/ Gunt, there is a correlation between mental illness and using drugs. That's actually counterevidence for your theory.

2/ I don't see any sign that the government is considering banning Prozac, which is a far more dangerous drug than cannabis. Or alcohol, more dangerous than both.

I am using truth. Typical of a lying toad like you that you don't know it when you see it.

Kids are no dumber today than they've ever been, Gunt. Making exams easier doesn't actually make kids dumber.

At 10:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kids are no dumber today than they've ever been, Gunt. Making exams easier doesn't actually make kids dumber.

I've have so far seen 10 nieces and nephews and my own daughter go through the education system and i have a sister inlaw and her husband who are teachers on an assistant head teacher. The education system and syllabus has actually dumbed down kids . I did CSE Physics when i was at school and i still have my notes, I showed them to my brother inlaw who before becoming an assistant head teacher was the head of science, he reckons that my CSE sylabus was almost at current A Level standard.

Both of them are unhappy with the way they have to teach for results at the expense of education.

The lack of general knowledge and lack of understanding of what is going on around them and what is actually happening in the world is utterly astounding. And my necies and nephews apart from one are above average attainers

Here is yet more material for you to dismiss


At 10:36 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Two things are afflicting you, Gunt. First, lack of comprehension of what you read. I did not say that kids were as well-taught today as previously. I said they were no dumber. Second, like many conservatives, you are incapable of seeing the positives of change. Of course, now you're getting older, you are also being assailed by oldmanitis, a condition in which a mostly useless twat, upon seeing young people who are better-looking, smarter and more able than he is, comforts himself with facile lies about how things was tougher in his day.

And LOL at fucking CSE physics, you retard!

At 10:42 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

12 years ago Prozac literally saved my life, after (don't laugh) a tonsillectomy operation went wrong. i was only on it for 3 months. That 3 months of Prozac gave me a break from 12 months of hell that just about killed me. I know of a couple of other people that it helped but have no personal knowledge of anyone that was adversely affected by it. I know that many have but like most drugs they should only be prescribed when completely nessesary and anti-depressants should be used in conjunction with councilling where side effects can also be monitired.

At 10:47 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

I'm glad that Prozac helped you. It's a heavy-duty psychoactive, so I don't doubt it's useful in many cases. I pretty much agree with your last sentence, and I'd suggest that "completely necessary" would be close to "never" where kids are concerned.

At 11:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am liberal minded in all aspects of my life, I get on great with my daughters friends, who think im cool and a legend (my daughters words) I think kids of today are a great bunch but then maybe it just the crowd my daughter hangs with. I managed to bring up my daughter to be differrent to be able to stand out from the crowd and do here own thing but at the same time fit in and have a very large group of friends.

I don't believe that kids are poorly taught i think on the whole teacher are better than they ever were, its what they have to teach which is at fault.

They are not taught to the depth that we were, and they do not know the subjects as well as we did. The end results are what can only be defined as dumber kids. Emerging in to a culture that thinks it cool to not "know stuff"

At 11:19 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd suggest that "completely necessary" would be close to "never" where kids are concerned.

Like everything it all depends on the level of super vision.

I don't have an issue with weed/green my main concern is skunk, its ease of availability and cheapness and the quantity's at which it is consumed by kids, you really do not have a clue, my nephew (at the age of 15 )and his mates were often in possession of KGs of it yes they were supplying to others but they smoked every bit of the profit.

to me id be happier if they had the old weak stuff in the same way im happier for kids to drink cider and beer than scotch and vodka. None of my daughters friends ended up in A&E after being in an Alcohol induced coma after drink that but a few did after drinking Vodka.

CSE's Retard!! You cunt i didnt learn to read untill i was 12.

At 11:31 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

You've been too busy yelling, as usual, to ask what my view actually is on cannabis and children. I take much the same view of it as I do of alcohol, as it happens.

"CSE's Retard!! You cunt i didnt learn to read untill i was 12."

Well, dude, that's the very definition of retarded. At least you've caught up to the other 12yos by now, eh?


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