Tag Archives: health

New study finds teens are not over-medicated

A new study finds that approximately 14 percent of teenagers with mental illness in the United States are treated with medication for the condition, contradicting the popular belief that teens are over-medicated, according to Businessweek.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness says that 4 million U.S. children and adolescents have a serious mental disorder, which affects their ability to function.

“It’s reassuring that the utilization seems to match the needs of these kids,” Benedetto Vitiello, the author of the study. told Businessweek. “This paper does not suggest that there is an excessive use. If anything, it may suggest at times medications are used fairly sparingly and other treatments are used instead of medications.”

He also told Reuters Health, “Most of the adolescents who met the criteria for a condition were not receiving medication, which suggests that they were being treated with something else, maybe psychotherapy, or maybe they were not even treated.

The study, which was sponsored by the National Institute of Health, looked at data from children ages 13 to 18-years old. Researchers found that of the children who had been diagnosed with a mental illness or illnesses, 14.2 percent were treated with medication, including stimulants, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. According to Reuters, of the population who did not have signs of a mental disorder, 2.5 percent had been prescribed a psychiatric drug.

But the data was from the years of 2001 to 2004, and NIH researchers said that additional studies are needed to make sure that teen use of these medicines has not changed.

For those interested in reading the study, click here.

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The Well Blog: other health news sites just don’t compare

The Well Blog, which is associated with The New York Times, is by far the best source for health news online. The blog offers an array of content including quizzes, well composed and thoughtful videos, and long form health stories.

The stories are creative and insightful: take this one on “Texting the Teenage Patient.” In it, Jan Hoffman chronicles a doctor’s plight to communicate with her young patients via texting, and she suggests that this may become a more widespread trend in the future.

The short, journalistic films on this blog are extremely well composed and well lit; additionally, the concepts for these pieces are quite innovative. For example the video “Life, Interrupted/Visiting Hours,”
features a woman who is waiting for a bone marrow transplant. This film is slightly different from many Times’ videos: the footage is raw and minimally edited. But for this piece, it works. The roughness of the video is appropriate for a piece on a woman who is suffering from cancer and has been in isolation for nearly a month.

Another strength of this blog is layout. The overall layout of the Well Blog is simple and easy to navigate. I also love the playful logo for the blog, which resembles a young child’s finger painting project.

One drawback to the blog is its lack of community involvement. Readers are encouraged to discuss certain stories in the comments section, but this does little to foster a community. A simple online forum would be of great benefit to this site.

Health.com and Menshealth.com are two similar health news websites that don’t even come close to the quality of the NY Times’ Well Blog. The stories are fluffy and devoid of any new and interesting content (i.e. “How Skinny is Too Skinny for a Role?,”  “The Food You Should Eat Everyday.”)

There is no community engagement on either of these magazine affiliated sites. But one redeeming quality of the Men’s Health site are its photo slideshows. Take this one on what the candidates are eating. Hilarious.

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Filed under Health, Mental Health