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Is Medication the Right Choice for Your Depressed Child?


The content on this page is provided for informational purposes only. This information is NOT medical advice. Be sure to consult your mental health care provider, as well as your physician, if you are considering medication for your child or teen.


Depression is a clinical disorder that can interfere with a person's mood and thinking. Depression can also affect how a person acts at home, school, and with friends.

Treatment for depression usually involves some type of therapy with a licensed psychologist or clinical social worker. Consultation with a psychiatrist, a medical doctor who specializes in mental illness, may help you decide whether medication could also help to treat your child's depression.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications for adolescents. They include:

  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Paxil paroxetine)
  • Celexa citalopram)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)
Treating depression with medication is a viable option, just as medication is commonly used to treat any number of other medical issues. However, since 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a series of public warnings about anti-depressant medications and children. After studying 2,200 kids taking SSRIs, the FDA found a small percentage who experienced suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and attempts. No children taking SSRIs in the study actually completed suicide, however.

 


Questions to Consider Before Your Child Starts Anti-Depressant Medication?

  1. How long has the depression lasted?
    Hormonal changes that come with being an adolescent can cause mood swings in both boys and girls. Breaking up with a boy or girlfriend, the death of a pet, or even failing a test at school can cause some kids to spiral into a space of sadness. When the depression lasts more than a couple of weeks or comes back frequently after short breaks, then it's time to take more than just a passing look at what's going on with your child.
  2. Have you already begun working with an effective mental health care provider who offers cognitive behavior therapy or insight-oriented therapy to help develop better coping skills?
    Studies conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health on adolescents, medication, and depression have shown that the most effective outcomes for depressed kids come when psychotherapy has been used by the family. For kids who are not in a crisis state, working with a therapist for a few weeks may help to answer the question as to whether or not medication is also needed.
  3. Is the depression so bad that it prevents your teen from being able to focus on what may be causing the severe sadness?
    For some people, depression can be so overwhelming that it prevents them from truly being able to think clearly or rationally. In cases like this, anti-depressants can help take the edge off the hopeless feelings and help a person be able to focus on psychotherapy.
  4. Does your child understand that SSRIs are not a magic pill that will make everything okay, on its own?
    Working through depression requires dealing with the issues that caused a person to become so overwhelmed by sadness that it affects their ability to live life fully. Taking a pill everyday will not make those issues go away.
 


What to Know Once Your Teen Starts Anti-Depressant Medication

  • Your child will need to be monitored by a psychiatrist at least once a month
  • Not every anti-depressant medication is FDA approved for use by all children. If your child is under the age of 12, verify the prescription is appropriate for your child
  • Sleeplessness and irritability are just 2 side effects that may come with taking SSRIs
  • Ending the use of an anti-depressant should be done gradually and under medical supervision.
  • Many people stay on anti-depressant medications for around one-year.


The content on this page is provided for informational purposes only. This information is NOT medical advice. Be sure to consult your mental health care provider, as well as your physician, if you are considering medication for your child or teen.


                 

 
Monday
October 23, 2017

 

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