Here's happy news for those who are convinced that all childhood problems can be medicated away: The FDA has given its official OK for Prozac to be prescribed to depressed children. Not that it's never been prescribed for kids before -- doctors have been giving the adult-approved med to children for years -- but now everybody can just feel a little bit better about doing it. The drug was found to have about the same side effects in the young as in the older, with the added effect of slowed physical growth. That's seen as a small price to pay to help the up to 25 percent of U.S. children who suffer from depression.
Twenty-five percent! Can that be true? A quarter of kids today are diagnosed as depressed? And we think that's due to a massive coincidental chemical imbalance in their brains, and not a massively out-of-whack society that either makes kids depressed or makes their parents seek that diagnosis for them? I'm sure that the drug will be a life-saver for some families, and I feel like a Grinch being grouchy about it; but the fact is, I'm not one of those who are convinced that all childhood problems can, or even should, be medicated away, and this whole thing just makes my heart sink. Eli Lilly, Prozac's maker, says it has no intention of marketing its drug for children; but ah, come on, with a quarter of the pediatric population as potential clients, you just know it won't be long before Prozac ads are popping up in "Highlights," Chuckie Finster's endorsing the stuff on Nickelodeon, and the Prozac Web site features a whole special section for kiddies. The junior self-diagnosis quiz should be a whole lotta of fun.