I am on the boat with the others who said these medications have their place and can work wonders for some people. Other people don't do so well on them, but that doesn't mean that they are incorrect for everyone. I also agree that many people, especially children, and especially here in America, are extremely over medicated. I grew up with a boy that was put on several ADHD medications around the time we hit junior high (~age 12), I had known him my entire life and in a small town, you get to where you know how each parent manages their children. His mother spoiled him completely rotten, never set boundaries, and gave him whatever he wanted just so that he would be quiet. Then, she blamed his unmanageable behavior in school on ADHD and ADD. There are many instances just like that, where normal rebellious behavior from children is medicated instead of disciplined and that creates a lifetime of struggling for a normal life.
But, I have also seen the other end of the spectrum, with people who had serious mental/emotional disorders that went untreated for years and years. I was a correctional officer in a men's state prison and I can remember quite a few offenders who genuinely needed the medications they were on.
There was one that pops right to the top of my head; so long as he was on his meds, he was one of the most respectful and 'normal' inmates you could meet. When he would talk to you, it was always "Yes, ma'am", "No, ma'am", "please", "thank you", "excuse me, ma'am", "may I please", etc. On the rare occasion that he would go off his meds, the difference in his personality was almost breathtaking.
He would get extremely violent and tended to assault the first person he could get his hands on, regardless of whether it was an officer or another inmate. He would also get self destructive, whenever we had him in handcuffs, we could not stand him close to a wall or put him on his knees on the sidewalk. If he could bend down or turn his head and reach a solid surface, he would start beating his own head on whatever he could.
After we would get him back onto his meds, he was always genuinely apologetic because he regretted doing it, he just couldn't seem to stop himself without his meds. There were several times when he actually broke down and cried while apologizing to whatever officer he happened to assault that particular time.
That whole thing about the side effects and the adverse reactions is exactly why it is so important to have a doctor that you trust to do what is right for you and to communicate openly with them. If they suggest a drug, then people need to do their own research about it to find out if they want to risk the potential side effects of a particular drug to get the potential help it offers. If there is a particular drug that you don't want to take, there is often several other options of drugs that have similar results but with less or different side effects.
Not only that, but if you begin to have side effects that you worry aren't normal, it is imperative that you contact the prescribing doctor and tell them exactly what is going on. A good doctor will work with you to find the medication (or lack of) that you need to get you to the best place you can be. If they aren't willing to work with you and listen to you, then they aren't a good doctor and you need to find a different one anyway.
I also wanted to mention that the big lists of side effects are not a guarantee. They are all 'possible' side effects. One person may take a drug like Zoloft and have no side effects at all except for a tremendously improved quality of life. Another person may take the exact same drug for the exact same emotional issues and be devastated by it, suffer every side effect on the list, and end up suicidal. It's all about finding the right combination that will suit the individual person best.