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Overmedication is an overutilization of medication wherein a patient takes unnecessary or excessive medications.

Persons who feel that they are overmedicated tend to not to follow their physician's instructions for taking their medication.[1]


The overmedication of children has dramatically risen with those between the ages of 2 and 5 years old who are being prescribed atypical antipsychotics for bipolar disorders, developmental disabilities, ADHD, and behavior disorders.[2] Drug companies have benefited considerably with profits made in sales for drugs such as stimulants for hyperactive children, with half a million children in the United States receiving medication.[3][obsolete source] Children have become more involved with technology resulting in less play time outside and less time spent with parents. The long hours children spend with technology has impacted their attachment development, sensory and motor development, along with socialization skills, in return causing behavioral and psychological disorders and learning disabilities being diagnosed by psychotropic medication.[4]

It's important for parents to monitor their child's behavior and regulate their environment in order to help prevent any future affective disorders. Medication is often prescribed to these children however, it alone will not teach a child to create more valuable relationships at home or in the community. Other forms of intervention can be applied to supplement the effects of medication therapy and teach the child self-regulatory behaviors and healthy coping skills.[5] The increase of psychiatric medication of children may be a result of the declining support for caregiving, leading to psychopathology in which drugs are oftentimes the go to method of treatment.[2] Families do not always have knowledge regarding or the means to pursue other methods of intervention such as one-on-one therapy with the child, family therapy and parenting counseling that can teach effective parenting strategies to meet their child's specific needs. There is debate that healthcare professionals have been put under pressure to perform proficiently causing the influence of piecemeal polypharmacy.[6]


A related issue is overprescription, which occurs when doctors give prescription drugs to patients who do not need them. Antibiotics are a common example,[7] as are narcotic painkillers.[8] Aggressive marketing by drug companies is sometimes cited as a reason for overprescription.[9]

Undiagnosing medical conditions to prevent overprescribing[edit]

Some diagnoses do not hold important clinical implications. These conditions do not require treatment. When they are treated, there is the potential for harm but little potential for benefit. The ERASE algorithm can help clinicians to Evaluate diagnoses through the consideration of Resolved conditions, Ageing normally and Selecting appropriate targets to Eliminate unnecessary diagnoses and associated medicines.[10]

Medication overuse headaches[edit]

Medication overuse headaches, also known as rebound headaches, are caused by the overuse of pain-relieving drugs for headaches, such as migraine headaches.


  1. ^ Fincke, Benjamin Graeme; Miller, Donald R.; Spiro, Avron (March 1998). "The interaction of patient perception of overmedication with drug compliance and side effects". Journal of General Internal Medicine. 13 (3): 182–185. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.1998.00053.x. PMC 1496921. PMID 9541375.
  2. ^ a b Robbins, Brent. "The overmedication of our youth: An interview with Brent Dean Robbins, PhD". Society for Humanistic Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  3. ^ Gittelman, Martin (1979). "Introduction: Refining Diagnosis and Behavioral Intervention: Key to Preventing Overmedication". International Journal of Mental Health. 8 (1): 3–9. doi:10.1080/00207411.1979.11448816. JSTOR 41350662.
  4. ^ Rowan, Cris (2010). "Unplug—Don't Drug: A Critical Look at the Influence of Technology on Child Behavior with an Alternative Way of Responding Other Than Evaluation and Drugging". Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. 12: 61. doi:10.1891/1559-4343.12.1.60.
  5. ^ Luvmour, Josette (2011). "Nurturing Children's Well-Being: A Developmental Response to Trends of Overdiagnosis and Overmedication". Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 51 (3): 350–368. doi:10.1177/0022167810386958.
  6. ^ Zakriski, Audrey L.; Wheeler, Elizabeth; Burda, Jeffrey; Shields, Ann (February 2005). "Justifiable Psychopharmacology or Overzealous Prescription? Examining Parental Reports of Lifetime Prescription Histories of Psychiatrically Hospitalized Children". Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 10 (1): 16–22. doi:10.1111/j.1475-3588.2005.00111.x.
  7. ^ "U.S. Doctors Still Over-Prescribing Drugs: Survey". Webmd.com. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  8. ^ Editor, Health (2016-03-28). "Almost All U.S. Doctors Are Overprescribing Narcotic Painkillers, Research Suggests - Chronic Pain". Health.com. Retrieved 2017-04-06.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Franklin, Cory (2011-06-20). "America's epidemic of over-prescribing | Cory Franklin | US news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  10. ^ Page, A (2019). "Undiagnosing to prevent overprescribing". Maturitas. 123: 67–72. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2019.02.010. PMID 31027680.

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