The teenager was prescribed 10 psychiatric drugs. She is not alone.

Mrs. Smith’s diagnoses began with a lack of attention.

In fourth grade, she struggled at school, and her family sought help from a psychiatrist, who prescribed Focalin for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, an increasingly common diagnosis. Looking back on her own high school days in the early 1980s, her father, Kevin Smith, wonders if he had ADHD. He “just had to zone out,” he recalls. “It drives my dad crazy.”

Mr. Smith copes in a different way, by playing sports, being outdoors and, occasionally, drinking. But his troubles were seen by his own father as a character flaw. “He would say, ‘Go into that room, and I’ll hit you a few times with the belt. Mr. Smith said.

He vowed not to let his child suffer any unresolved mental health issues. “I try hard to give Renae all the tools she needs to fight it,” he said.

In eighth grade, Ms. Smith showed signs of depression. “Instead of going to class, I went to my guidance counselor and cried the whole time,” she said. She risked the reason: Her father’s landscaping business was in trouble; there are challenges within the family; She feels pressured to get into a prestigious university, which she considers the only path to security and happiness. If she doesn’t get into a good university, she fears, “I’m going to work in a supermarket for the rest of my life.”

The quest to feel better led her and her family to various treatments and ultimately to multiple prescriptions.

In 2018, in the spring of her freshman year, she visited the New Horizons Counseling Center on Long Island. According to the psychiatrist’s notes she shared with The Times, Ms Smith reported experiencing an increase in anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. “She agreed to try a small dose of Prozac (10 mg) once daily along with individual therapy,” the doctor wrote. New Horizon did not respond to questions from The Times about Ms. Smith’s case.

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