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Medicines consumed in early childhood by children may be either directly ingested by children or indirectly through breast feeding. They all have long-term and short term effect on the psychological health of the child. The medications passed on to the child through breastfeeding are can react with any medication the child is taking resulting in adverse cause effects. The dosage and rate of absorption of the medicine taken by the mother and passed on through breast feeding determines the rate and intensity of the medication. Most mothers that experience postpartum depression will take antidepressants while their children are young.
According to researchers, most anti depressants will be excreted through the breast milk, and have an effect on the newborn’s central nervous and neurotransmitter system (Duncan & Taylor, 1995). Post natal exposure to some anti depressants cause long term emotional and motor side effects, for example, the use of Flouxine by the mother. Apart from anti depressants, the mother may also take antipsychotic medications that have long term behavioral effect, on the child, due to change in dopamine levels in the child. There are other medicines that may be ingested by the baby directly as treatment for various childhood illnesses. Some of the drugs effects may be short term while others are long term and may take along time to show effects. In early childhood, most of the cognitive development occurs at infancy and any medication that interferes with this development causes numerous psychological effects. This essay explores various psychological consequences of early childhood medication.
Impairing creativity in children can be caused by medication that affects the cognitive and intellectual processes development and function. Some medications used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children like Methylphenidate (Ritalin). Children taking this medication have a narrow way of processing thoughts and in learning will give less varied answers to open ended questions. Any medication that has components affecting the child’s intellectual and cognitive development will affect the child’s mental functions and socialization. This medicine causes nausea, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, strokes and even death as the other side effects too. According to a study done in Medical University of South Carolina, Methylphenidate has a similar structure to that of cocaine and similar effects. The amphetamines enhance cognitive activity in children with ADHD, like Adderall but hinder creativity in the gifted children.
Aggression and hostility in small children can be attributed to some medicine in children and is an overly aggressive behavior. This is mainly caused by amphetamine intoxication in infants and depressive disorders that may be caused by the medication. Amphetamine abuse is characterized by extreme alertness, energetic responses and exhilaration. It can also be caused by drug interactions in a child and the child appears distressed and agitated. Agitation is a state of hyper arousal, increased tension, irritability and hostility. This behavior affects the leaning and socializing process of a child. This may cause relational aggression as the child grows up and has short and long term effects. The short term effects are loneliness, anxiety and depression while long term impact is the development of adjustment problems that persist into adulthood. These problems may lead to problems in relationships and even suicide.
Attention and cognition development in a child can be affected by use of some medication. Cognition is the process of thoughts and attention is a cognitive procedure that focuses on a thing(s) while disregarding the rest. Some medication may affect thee relationship between the cognitive processes and attention in the processing of information. This is characterized by inattention and concentration difficulties in the children. Some of the antidepressant medication like Olazapine will interfere with working memory.
Some children who suffer mental illnesses in early childhood may take medication to enable them to lead normal lives. The mediation does not cure the mental illness but keeps them under control. However, due to the prolonged use of these medicines they have various consequences on children. These consequences may be felt immediately or later in their lives and may not be curable either. Some of the mental disorders are bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, Schizophrenia and ADHD. Antipsychotic medicines are used to treat schizophrenia and related disorders and include some like Chlorpromazine and Haloperidol. These are known as typical antipsychotic s while atypical antipsychotics are the new generation drugs. They have more physical short term effects than psychological. However, these effects lead to psychological effects like depression and aggression (Elias, 2006).
They also cause insomnia and persistent drowsiness. This may confuse a child who needs to be on a schedule of activities to ensure proper behavior. School going children under this medication may be thoroughly affected as they are not able to function normally. If the child does not get any sleep the previous night or is extremely drowsy in class, the learning process is considerably hampered. These children are also not able to socialize with their peers and tend to keep to themselves. This withdrawal tendency will lead to suicidal thoughts in older children. Children under such medication or any anti depressants need to be watched closely to monitor their change in behavior and avoid disaster.
Treatments that are used to treat bipolar disorder and mood altering medications may experience hallucinations, anorexia and suicidal thoughts occurrence. Treatments are lithium based, and one of the side effects is memory loss and concentration. Seizures may be a result of some medication used to treat and control bipolar disorders in children and are caused by uncontrolled electric impulse in the brain.
Serotonin syndrome is a life threatening drug reaction that can be caused by drug reaction, overdose and use of certain medications. This reaction causes some poisoning to the body and brings about this condition. Some of the symptoms include over responsive reflexes, hyper vigilance and agitation in the child. The child then develops some of the following abnormalities like hypomania, mental confusion, hallucinations and comas. Some of the medication that causes this syndrome is anti depressants, opioids ands Central Nervous system stimulants like amphetamines.
Hyper vigilance is an enhanced sensitivity and accompanied by exaggerated behavior with the purpose of detecting threats. This often followed by exhaustion, anxiety attacks, violent outbursts and strange reactions to sounds or smells. These symptoms often lead to disturbed sleeping patterns of the child and this makes them exceedingly cranky. The constant search for threats in his physical environment causes shim/ her to loose connection with family and friends.
Medication administration in children can lead to psychological dependency on the medications. Like most drugs dependency as a disorder in itself as it alters the child’s behavior in the absence off the medication. Once a child develops tolerance for some medicine, an increased dosage may be used, and this increases the side effects adversely (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2011). Once they become addicted to the medication, lack of access to it leads to manic reactions that include nightmares, panic attacks and depression. Withdrawal symptoms are extreme fatigue, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts in older children. Hallucination is a perception in the absence of a stimuli, where on hears and sees things that are not present. They occur in various senses like touch, smell, sight, audio and taste without an external stimuli.