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Professor Finds Major Increase in Psychiatric Hospitalizations of Young People

National rates increased by 81 percent in children between 1996 and 2007.

A Stony Brook University professor has published the findings of a new study which show a steep spike in hospitalizations for psychiatric disorders among  children and adolescents, the university announced last week.

Dr. Joseph C. Blader, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the university, published the study in the online edition of “Archives of General Psychiatry,” and will also appear in its December print edition.

The study looked at data collected over a 12-year period ending in 2007. It found that hospitalizations of children, defined as 5 to 13 years old, increased by 81 percent over the period, while that of adolescents aged 14 to 19 years increased by almost 42 percent.

Rates among adults increased by a much smaller margin: eight percent. Rates among the elderly declined by 17.5 percent, the report stated.

Blader is quoted by the university explaining that the study represents, “significant developments in mental health treatment in the United States with potentially strong ramifications for quality of care and service financing.”

He pointed out that short-stay hospitalizations increased from 1970 through the 1990’s as long-term commitments declined. 

Other factors, he wrote, may include payers looking to reduce expenditures for such care and a shift by mental health policy makers and advocates toward alternative treatments that aren’t as restrictive and stigmatizing as hospitalization can be.

“The fact that this recent rise occurred despite pressures toward minimizing hospitalizations for psychiatric illness suggests that rising hospitalization rates for youth more likely correspond to clinical need rather than overuse,” wrote Blader. 

The study also found shifts in primary diagnoses. There was an increase in bipolar disorder diagnoses, according to the report, but a decline in that of anxiety disorders. Substance abuse rates remained the same, with about 30 percent of adult psychiatric patients having a secondary diagnosis of substance abuse.

Everwatchful August 18, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Undoubtedly due to the inappropriate medication of such patients. I would suspect that very few psychiatrist are Christians, because Christian generally have aversion to stealing and bearing false witness...
Mitch Eisenstein August 18, 2011 at 05:35 AM
That is a ridiculous comment. I am a social worker at CATHOLIC CHARITIES, and many children have ADHD, and require medication in order to have any chance at functioning. It is precisely because of Christianity that the compassion for the sick leads to many devout doctors to search for medicines to alleviate the suffering of adults, families and children. Counseling alone often does not help the severely depressed. God created man, and man created medicine. There is no contradiction here. With regard to the article itself, I think that professionals are getting better at catching these debilitating diseases and trying to prevent them from ruining a childs chances at becomming a functioning adult. Our society has produced alot of family stresses leading to drug abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse. The children of these families have changes in their brain chemistry that lead to cognitive impairments including behavioral disruptiveness, inability to concentrate, oppositional behavior, inability to control rages, deep depressions and anxieties, compulsive behaviours. We are starting to admit that the dysfunctional adult started out as a dysfunctional child in a dysfunctional family. And we are trying to treat this societal illness with compassion and dignity at precisely the same time that deep cuts are being made in social programs because its easy to scapegoat the poor. Believe me, there is not alot of scamming going one when your homeless, destitute and suicidal.

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