Investigative journalist, Philip Dowd, lays the blame squarely at the drug companies, along with child psychiatrists at Harvard.
How do you account for the astonishing rise in the number of diagnoses we're seeing in teens and preschoolers with regard to ADHD and bipolar disorder?
To me, you can lay all of this squarely at the feet of the pharma companies, which had a slew of newish drugs come online in the 80s and 90s and wanted them taken by as many humans as possible--consequences for the patients be damned--and a crew of child psychiatrists at Harvard/MGH who see deeply-flawed, ill-for-life children where other psychiatrists might see personality disorders and issues that will burn out over time. The pharma companies and the Harvard crew worked hand-in-hand to bring America a generation of ADHD kids and bipolar children, and their profound influence can be seen in the millions of children and teens who now carry lifetime diagnoses and take gobs of psychotropic drugs each day, often to their detriment.
I'm noticing an epic push by Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca to have their atypical antipsychotics (Zyprexa and Seroquel, respectively) approved for a wide range of indications (including ones like depression) before the drugs go off-patent in a few years.
Perhaps the most egregious example of a pharma company trying to influence diagnostic trends came in 2002 when Eli Lilly launched a massive sales campaign to convince PCPs that patients walking into their offices complaining of depression actually had bipolar disorder type 2 instead, and that Zyprexa was the perfect fix for that. The results were utterly disastrous for patients, what with all the weight gain and diabetes they experienced as a result. Interestingly, female patients were the primary target of the campaign.
The St. Petersburg Times recently reported that in 2007 23 infants less than one-year-old were given antipsychotics.