Mind Institute Qatar Mental Health Services. Psychotherapy
In a recent article Generation Adderall by Casey Schwartz in The New York Times Magazine, the author recounts her experience as an Adderall addict, going from an anxious teenager to a high-performing Brown University student to a freelance writer who couldn’t function without amphetamine. This article brings attention to the over-prescribing of medication in society and its effects on our children.
Over-prescribing and its effects
As a psychoanalyst and parent guidance expert, the increase in mental health issues in young children, adolescents, and young adults is a concern. The rise in psycho-pharmacological medications being prescribed for disorders of emotional regulation without consideration of the long-term consequences is alarming.
The need for immediate gratification in society
The fact that our society prefers to medicate symptoms rather than consider their underlying causes is indicative of a need for immediate gratification and lack of introspection or reflection. This approach can lead to superficially addressing symptoms without addressing the real problem.
Emotional regulation, also known as emotional homeostasis, is not something we are born with but something we learn from our earliest interactions with our mothers or primary caregivers. Neuroscience and epigenetics research has shown that a child’s emotional sensitivity can be neutralized by a sensitive and nurturing mother or primary caregiver who spends time buffering the child from stress, regulating their emotions from moment to moment, and slowly introducing manageable frustration.
The role of mothers and primary caregivers
Mothers and primary caregivers play a crucial role in a child’s emotional development. Spending time buffering children from stress, regulating their emotions, and introducing manageable frustration can increase emotional security and resilience to stress.
Research has shown that psychodynamic or reflective psychotherapy, which provides nurturing, empathy, and insight into an individual’s emotional needs, can help to interrupt the development of the inability to regulate emotions. The right brain, responsible for emotional regulation, can develop again through psychotherapy.
Medicating social and relational problems
The trend of medicating away social and relational problems puts our children at risk for addiction and long-term neurological consequences. Avoiding pain by medicating it away may only defer that pain to a later date in which case the intensity of the pain is greater.
The potential consequences of over-prescribing
Medicating symptoms without addressing underlying problems can lead to addiction and a lifetime of pain and suffering. Long-term neurological consequences are yet to be uncovered, and over-prescribing may ultimately lead to more harm than good.
In conclusion, our society’s tendency to medicate away symptoms rather than address underlying causes puts our children at risk for addiction, long-term neurological consequences, and a lifetime of pain and suffering. Emotional regulation is a learned skill, and mothers and primary caregivers play a crucial role in a child’s emotional development. Psychotherapy can also provide a safe space for individuals to address their emotional needs and interrupt the development of the inability to regulate emotions. It is time to address the underlying problems and prioritize emotional regulation over immediate gratification.