MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A large new study challenges the notion that too many U.S. teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other mental health conditions are prescribed psychiatric drugs, when in fact only 14 percent of such adolescents receive them.
Concerns that drugs like Ritalin have been inappropriately prescribed to children and adolescents are based on anecdotal evidence or the results of studies that didn't use clinical information but instead only reviewed prescription databases, the researchers explained.
"We did not find overuse of medications and there did not appear to be misuse of medications among those who had a mental disorder during the last year," said study author Kathleen Merikangas, senior investigator and chief of the genetic epidemiology branch at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.
"There are more kids out there who have chronic disorders who are not on medications than who are on medications," Merikangas noted.
Of these children, about half are getting mental health treatment, she said. Many children with mental disorders, however, go undiagnosed and untreated. In some cases, parents don't want their child evaluated. In other cases, parents don't want their children on medications, she said.
Merikangas advised parents of children with these problems to see a mental health professional who can decide how best to treat the problem. However, a limited number of mental health professionals exist to meet the needs of all the children with mental disorders, she said, with waiting lists to see a psychiatrist taking six to 15 months. In addition, many schools aren't equipped to deal with these issues, she said.
The report was published in the Dec. 3 online edition of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Researchers collected data on more than 10,000 teens, aged 13 to
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