Stress Medications

Anti-Depressant Drugs: Effective For Young Kids?

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With the recent controversy involving anti-depressants and their safety, the issue of prescribing anti-depressant drugs for young children is more controversial than ever. But are anti-depressants effective for young children? More essentially, are they safe? The fact is that we have yet to know the true efficacy and safety of these drugs. Until we know for certain the long-term effects of prescribing anti-depressant drugs to young children, most experts recommend that children should not be given such drugs.

The Growing Problem of Depression among Children and Young Adults Unfortunately, depression among children and young adults appears to be increasing. It is a serious problem that doctors and psychiatrists are clamoring to solve, but one with very few easy solutions. Research indicates that roughly 6% of all children and adolescents suffer from some type of childhood depressive disorder. For adolescent age children, the statistics grow even dimmer. For children age 10 to 19, suicide is a prescient threat. In fact, the third biggest cause of death for this age group is suicide.

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What We Know About Popular Anti-Depressants The most popular class of drugs used to treat childhood depressive disorders is known as selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors, or SSRI's. SSRI's are considered to be the best defense against childhood depressive disorders. In published studies, SSRI's like the popular drugs Paxil and Prozac were found to be a little more effective than a placebo. SSRIs function by increasing the level of serotonin in the body. The Controversy of Anti-Depressants and Its Use for Children Unfortunately, the safety and efficacy of prescribing anti-depressants to children is mired in much controversy. Much of the controversy stems from conflicting medical research. Although some published reports do indicate that SSRI's can be at least moderately effective and another study indicated that certain anti-depressants can actually augment the amount and level of suicidal thinking in its users. Paxil could actually increase the amount of suicidal thinking in a child. Prozac, the vanguard of the anti-depressant drugs that grew in popularity during the 1990s, has long been suspected of also increasing suicidal thinking in its users.

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There is also much controversy that questions the ethics and openness of the drug manufacturers. The pharmaceutical industry has been criticized for its refusal to make unpublished data available to medical investigators. It is now known that clinical trials of popular anti-depressant drugs have been withheld from the medical investigators, government agencies, and the public at large. Some argue that this lack of openness and cooperation has led to anti-depressants being wrongly recommended to treat childhood depressive disorders.

The Conclusion: To Prescribe or Not? With the number of controversies still surrounding the use of anti-depressant drugs on young children, it seems safe to conclude that young children should not be prescribed anti-depressants. The exclusion to this rule are children who are severely depressed, but they must be closely monitored for any adverse effects.