Cannabinoids in Pediatrics
Can someone please provide feedback on my paper below. My three main areas of weakness are grammar, word usage, and organization.Ditching Big Pharma
As a father of four when each of my daughters were born the first thing I did was count ten fingers and ten toes. I always breathed a sigh of relief once doctors relayed that our daughter passed each of her newborn test. In my mind this meant they were perfect, and nothing could go wrong. I never even contemplated that some things that are wrong at birth can not be seen for years to come. I always noticed my oldest daughter Ruby would sometimes be withdrawn and react to things inappropriately. I chopped it up to adolescents and coming to terms with her birth mom leaving. However, after my oldest was homicidal and suicidal it led to an inpatient stay at St. Luke's Behavioral Health Hospital. I learned something my fiancé had suspected my oldest, the little girl who changed my whole life eleven years ago has bipolar disorder. A mental illness so severe that doctors rarely diagnose children with having it. As soon as she was diagnosed, she was immediately put on a combination of psychiatric medications with side effects ranging from yellowing of skin, mood swings, suicidal thoughts and thoughts of death. I could not fathom why a person who was manic and having homicidal and suicidal thoughts would be placed on a medication whose side effects were what we were trying to treat. Doctors told me we likely are going to need to try multiple combinations of drugs and dosage levels until we find the right one. I was advised to watch for signs of tardive dyskinesia. A disorder that is caused by prolong use of psychotropic medication. This led me to begin researching more natural alternatives to the medications offered by major pharmaceutical corporations. With the rise in children being diagnosed with behavioral and mood disorders, the use of Cannabidiol (CBD oil) or marijuana is a safer alternative to treat children with these illnesses and has less side effects than the pharmaceutical drugs currently on the market.Public Health Crisis
According to the Child Mind Institute, the increase of children being diagnosed with a mental disorder is a public health crisis. In the United State there are 74.5 million children and its estimated that 17.1 million of these children have or have had a psychiatric disorder. That is nearly a quarter of American youth diagnosed with a mental disorder before they turn eighteen. To put that number in perspective one and six children between the ages of two to eight have a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. This number is higher than the sum of children who are diagnosed with cancer, AIDS, and diabetes combined. The most common disease in childhood is a mental health disorder. A mental disorder for a child is characterized as being significant and serious change in the way a child typically conducts themselves, handle their emotions, or learns, thus leading to distress and difficulties just getting through the day. The mental disorders that are commonly diagnosed during childhood are anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and behavior disorders. Of the commonly diagnosed mental health disorders:
·9.4% of children between the ages of 2-17 (approximately 6.1 million) have been diagnosed as ADHD.
·7.4% of children between the ages of 3-17 (approximately 4.5 million) have been diagnosed with a behavior problem.
·7.1% of children between the ages of 3-17 (approximately 4.4 million) have been diagnosed with anxiety.
·3.2% of children between the ages of 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have been diagnosed with depression (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Additionally, the rate of depression and anxiety have increased. In children ranging from ages 6-17 years of age were diagnosed with anxiety and depression at a rate of 5.4% in 2003 to 8% in 2007 and to 8.4% in 2011-2012. The rate of anxiety increased from 5.5% in 2007 to 6.4% in 2011-2012 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Despite the enormous size of the problem, there is still a significant lack of awareness of the issue and a severe stigma that keeps children from getting the help they need. My own daughter was afraid that if people find out she suffers from mania because of her bipolar disorder they would think she was a maniac. My mother who is also bipolar feared my daughter getting that diagnoses labeled on her. For many kids who do not get help it often leads to academic failure and behavior that leads to involvement in the juvenile justice system. For those children who do get medical treatment they are often in for a slew of side effects and pill shopping (Child Mind Institute).Side effects
Once a child is diagnosed with a mental disorder the next step is often to put them on psychiatric medications. Doctors have no way of knowing how a child is going to react to the medication. Rather it will alleviate the patience symptoms, have no effect, or make the situation worse. Some drugs cause internal damage like Depakote and require monthly blood draws to ensure it is not damaging the patience liver. For this reason, doctors recommend trying a medication for a month and seeing what happens. The most common side effects of psychotropic medications listed by the Food and Drug Administration are:
·Nausea and vomiting
·Thoughts about suicide or dying
·Attempts to commit suicide
·New or worsening depression
·New or worsening anxiety
·Feeling very agitated or restless
·Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
·New or worsening irritability
·Acting aggressively, being angry, or violent
·Acting on dangerous impulses
·An extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)
As a parent it is terrifying to watch and see what the reaction may be for your child. If a medication is deemed to be ineffective or the child is having adverse side effects, then the recommendation is for a new pill.An Alternative
A controversial treatment that many adults have turned to rather legal or illegal is the use of Cannabidiol (CBD oil) or marijuana to treat their mental illness. It is an even more controversial treatment for a parent to use on their child that could have legal consequences. Marijuana is the dried leaves of the cannabis plants. CBD oil is made from marijuana bur does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol the component of marijuana that makes users feel high. The federal government still classifies marijuana as a schedule one drug, meaning it has no medical use. Other schedule one drugs include heroin, LSD and ecstasy. However, several states have disagreed with the federal government (including Arizona) and have legalized marijuana to treat ailments typically that cause pain but not emotional issues. Some states have taken it even further and legalized marijuana for recreational use. The federal governments ban has led to an insufficient amount of scientific research on using CBD or marijuana to treat behavioral and mood disorders in children. Typically, when research is conducted its focus treating epilepsy and cancer not mental illness. This has caused parents to have to rely on anecdotal knowledge from other parents who have used CBD oil or marijuana to treat their children. Additionally, when research presents evidence that demonstrates that either alternative is helpful for treating mental illness, it is often ignored because of the stigma surrounding the use of CBD oil or marijuana (Echo).A Case Study
A scientific study was conducted on a ten-year-old girl who was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder related to sexual abuse. Her primary issues presented were anxiety, insomnia, outbursts at school, suicidal ideation, and self-destructive behaviors. She was brought in by her grandmother for reevaluation of the behaviors related to her diagnosis. She had been taking several traditional psychiatric medications for three years. She started taking a regimen of CBD oil in March 2015 and almost immediately started seeing a positive effect. By August 2015 she was able to handle school better and her quality and quantity of sleep improved. Additionally, her anxiety decreased (Shannon et al.). In reading the case study, I could not help but notice the similarities between the girl in the study to my own daughter who struggles with insomnia and aggressive outburst.Comparing the Side Effects
As a parent trying out a medication that has not been heavily researched is terrifying. The first thing you think about is the side effects. Any drug has a risk and marijuana also has side effects. According to the Mayo clinic marijuana side effects are:
·A disconnected state (dissociation)
The side effects of marijuana are minimal in comparison to the side effects of psychotropic medications. I would rather my daughter have an increased appetite and dry mouth than more aggressive behavior and increased mania. Many opposers to using medical marijuana to treat children argue that evidence has shown that marijuana does impact the development of the adolescent brain. The human brain does not come out of adolescents until a person reaches their mid-twenties. Although it is a very valid argument psychotropic medication also impact the neurons in the brain. Any parent whose child is on psychiatric medications is advised to look out for involuntary muscle spasms or tremors as well tongue thrusting as it is a sign of tardive dyskinesia. A nervous system disorder caused by the use of psychiatric medication.
CBD oil has even fewer side effects than the other options. Side effects found in studies include diarrhea, change in appetite, and fatigue (Kubala). In comparing, it with other options it is hard to even comprehend why a parent would not try this as a first step to treatment.
In closing, as a father of a child with bipolar disorder watching her world change rapidly with little control over keeping her mentally present is disheartening. For some time, I lost my little girl and through pill shopping she is currently on two medications that appear to be helping. However, the side effects of her medications are worrisome and being that she is eleven tardive dyskinesia seems inevitable. Through my research I am interested in being in a trial for CBD oil to treat my daughter. It would be amazing to eliminate the medications and their risk for just one alternative, CBD oil. Regardless if I ever chose to place my daughter on CBD oil, I do believe that this should be a choice left up to parents and not the government. No parent should have to choose between watching their child struggle on various pills and the issues they may cause when an alternative is available with fewer short and long term side effects.