Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up
Over the last two decades, we have seen a dramatic spike in the number of young people taking psychiatric medication–but, despite a heated debate on the issue, we haven’t heard directly from the “medicated kids” themselves. In Dosed, Kaitlin Bell Barnett, who was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, weaves together stories from members of this “medication generation, exploring their experiences at home, in school, and with the psychiatric profession. For many, taking meds has proved more complicated than merely popping a pill, as they try to parse their changing emotions, symptoms, side effects, and diagnoses without conclusive scientific research on how the drugs affect developing brains and bodies. While negotiating schoolwork, relationships, and the workplace, they also struggle to find the right drug, deal with breakdowns, decide whether they still need treatment at all–and, ultimately, make sense of their long-term relationship to psychotropic drugs.
The results of what one psychopharmacologist describes as a “giant, uncontrolled experiment” are just starting to trickle in. Barnett shows that a lack of ready answers and guidance has often proven extremely difficult for these young people as they transition from childhood to adolescence and now to adulthood. With its in-depth accounts of individual experiences combined with sociological and scientific context, Dosed provides a much-needed road map for patients, friends, parents, and those in the helping professions trying to navigate the complicated terrain of growing up on meds.
“A skillful and knowledgeable storyteller, Kaitlin Bell Barnett uses young adult’s sagas of their childhood struggles with psychiatric diagnoses and drugs, her own included, to explore a fundamental question: What does it mean to grow up as ‘the medicated kid’? Dosed is thoughtful, potent and overdue.”—Paula Span, Contributor, the New York Times’ Science Times
“Dosed is a fascinating, well-researched, and very important book. After reading it, I hope that no parent, pediatrician or psychiatrist will give psychiatric medication to a child or adolescent without very careful consideration of the potential long-term consequences. Bell Barnett shows that these medications are often not a ‘quick fix,’ but rather have deep, lasting impact, not only on physical and emotional health, but also on a person’s core sense of self.”—Claudia M. Gold, MD, author of Keeping Your Child in Mind
“Kaitlin Bell Barnett’s debut is an insightful, timely analysis of an issue I have yet to see anyone confront head-on: the effects of psychotropics on a generation raised on them from a young age. Barnett takes on the topic with perspicacity and aplomb, making Dosed a book that should be read by everyone concerned about quick fixes for complex problems.”—Lauren Slater, author of Opening Skinner’s Box