Prozac for a 3 year-old?

This is my youngest. Mister T.

Check that one raised eyebrow. He gets that from me.

He’s an awesome kid. Loves cars. Is inquisitive. Whip-smart. Active and coordinated. Everyone he meets on the playground is his “best friend.”

He also feels things differently than other kids. He has really high highs, really low lows, is defiant and obstinate and physically strong, which you find out quick if he hauls off and punches you for no apparent reason. He’s by turns suspicious, trusting, pessimistic and exuberant.

I promise, he has more shirts than just this orange one.

He’s my third kid, so it’s not my first time at the rodeo. I’m realizing early, though, that T’s a little different than our other two (as he should be!), but talking with his pediatrician at his yearly checkup, we agreed maybe he should talk to someone good with very young kids about coping strategies and how to handle emotions in better ways. Also, if there’s something deeper going on, better to learn now than before he gets kicked out of Kindergarten for giving the teacher a bloody lip. (He doesn’t hit other kids his age, only bigger ones and grown-ups, and if he has a “good” reason.)

My first clue it wasn’t going to be that easy should have been when the referral office lady called and asked in a very snotty tone, “You’re aware they don’t medicate 3 year-olds, right?” I corrected her and explained the coping strategies, emotions, there’s gotta be a better way thing. Second clue might have been when the doctor’s office called and said the same thing as the snotty referral office lady, in the same judgmental tone. Again, the tune changed after I gave my now stock explanation of what we were after.

The face of skepticism.

I’m not familiar with counselors, but I was told this guy was great with kids. We walk in, T starts telling him about our trip to the car museum this past weekend, and how some bad kids were riding the pedal cars in the pedal car museum, even though the sign said NO, and then Doc simply watches in fascination as T acquaints himself with the room. “That’s a brain!” he exclaims, pointing at a poster. “I’ve got one of those in my skull! Because skulls are on top of your skeleton, inside your head.” The doctor is impressed. Then the doctor tells me he’s never seen a kid so young in his office and I start to get confused. This is the doc so good with young children? We go through medical history, T’s, mine and my husbands.

The conclusion? Prozac. “How would you feel about putting your 3 year-old on Prozac? Just a little bit. Like, a quarter of a milligram. Just to see what would happen.” Doc’s words. Like, hey, this might be a cool experiment.

I give him pretty much a big, fat, fuck no. I’m not anti-medication. I’m on a couple, trying to work out what’s going on with my wacky brain-chemicals which have suddenly decided I should have fairly sudden-onset near-constant anxiety and now maybe panic attacks at random intervals, among other things. Husband is on meds, too, and has had amazing success with issues he’s struggled with his entire life.

Nope. Not going to experiment with this guy.

But to experiment with Prozac on a 3 year-old? Doc tells me, you know I’m a psychiatrist, right? I say, if that’s the one that prescribes medications, then, no, I didn’t know that. You are not the guy we were supposed to see. But now, he’s intrigued by T. He wants T to come back in a couple months. He thinks T has really early signs of ADD/ADHD, which don’t usually show up until first grade. Dad has those, too, plus dyslexia, so it wouldn’t be a surprise. He tells me to make an appointment on my way out.

I didn’t.

I don’t normally blog on super-personal things like this, but is this normal? I know we’re a society that relies more and more on medications to fix things, and hell, sometimes we really need them, and it’s likely that T will at some point. But this just seemed so weird to me. No recommendation to talk to a psychologist. You know, the kind of doc we were supposed to see in the first place. We were only at his office because of a clerical error, apparently. No advice on coping strategies. Nothing on handling all those big emotions and anger at people bigger than you.

What do you think? Is this messed up, or am I just over-mom-reacting? And if you have a toddler on an anti-depressant – I’M NOT JUDGING. I’m just wondering if this is now a common first resort.

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4 thoughts on “Prozac for a 3 year-old?

  1. God, this makes me want to weep! This is what’s happened to psychiatry — it’s all about the meds. Kudos to you for looking at other options. I’m all for meds if they are truly necessary, but as a first course of action? I don’t think so.

    We have a family member who exhibited many of the traits you described. We went through years of worry about what the future would hold.

    After a nightmare of meds and endless frustration, we found something called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It was a godsend. DBT is used primarily to treat those with Borderline Personality Disorder, but I think it’s just a great way to treat anyone! We first found a book by Valerie Porr (Overcoming Borderline Personality Disorder), and it was helpful (though I do NOT recommend visiting her or talking to her — she’s a wonderful messenger, but boy, does she have issues).

    I also found help through a couple of other books: Raising Your Spirited Child (Kurcinka) and The Explosive Child (Greene).

    Thanks to DBT and these books, our family member is med-free and a functioning member of society. There are still difficult days, but the difference has been extraordinary.

    With Mister T being so young, you have an wonderful opportunity to help him at an earlier age — we had to undo a lot of damage from the meds and bad guidance.

    Much luck to you and your family. Hugs to Mister T, and applause to you for looking at all your options. He’s fortunate to have parents who don’t just give in to “med management.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nadine, thank you SO much for your comment – I’m going to look into each of your references! DBT, Overcoming Borderline Personality Disorder, The Explosive Child… and for some reason, I think I have an unread copy of Raising Your Spirited Child somewhere in my extensive book collection. I’m so glad that your family member was able to have such a wonderful support network. Thank you so much. I can’t tell you what your input means to me. Mister T is going to bring us more challenges than each of our other kids, I’m sure, but he’s an awesome guy and so worth the extra effort. Thank you. ❤ ❤

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    • I want to unlike this comment now, just so I can re-like it a couple more times. Also, I want to cross-stitch that phrase, frame it and hang it up in our house. “Smart kids are harder to raise.” So, so true.

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