Children and Antidepressants. What all parents need to know to keep their children safe.
Children and antidepressants is a very touchy subject for many people. In particular because an increasing
number of children are being put on antidepressants, but some very disturbing information is surfacing
regarding the safety of these medications.
There have been a number of serious and deadly results from young people taking medications for depression.
Many if not all the recent school shootings have shown us a picture of a disturbed young person who is on
some type of antidepressant. I am not going to give any list here. You can search for children and
antidepressants yourself if you are interested in the particulars. However, there is enough of a link
between children and antidepressants and violence, regardless of whether it is suicide or mass slaughter,
to make us think twice about whether we want our children on these drugs.
I am not a physician and so I am not giving or suggesting any medical advice but I am a mother and for many
years also coached parents. I have seen the number of children on antidepressants and needlessly put on
Ritalin, when all they had was a different learning style. Once the parents address their particular
learning style, Presto! The need for Ritalin vanished in a puff of smoke.
I urge you as a parent to carefully consider if your child needs to be medicated. We are becoming a nation
of pill poppers and pill pushers. Every magazine and every TV program now has some type of advertising for
a medication to 'make us feel better' The sad part is that often the side effects are worse than the disease.
You know your child best. Take the time to research for other options for them. If you do decide to mix
children and antidepressants, be sure to read the information given below.
I am including the information from the FDA website as the FDA now gives a warning regarding using
antidepressant drugs for young people up to the age of 25.
What is the most important information I should know about antidepressants?
Parents or guardians need to know about four important things to help them decide whether their child or teenager should take an antidepressant:
- (1) The risks of self-injury or suicide
- (2) How to try to prevent self-injury or suicide
- (3) What to watch for in children and antidepressants
- (4) The benefits and risks of antidepressants
- Risk of Injury to Self or Suicide
Children or teenagers with depression sometimes think about suicide. They may even try to kill themselves.
Antidepressants may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children and teens.
Thinking about killing yourself or trying to kill yourself is called suicidality or being suicidal.
A large study combined the results of 24 different smaller studies of children and teenagers who took
either sugar pills or antidepressants for 1 to 4 months. Although no one committed suicide in these studies,
some young patients became suicidal. On sugar pills, 2 out of every 100 became suicidal. On the
antidepressants, 4 out of every 100 young patients became suicidal.
- How to try to prevent self-injury or suicide
To try to prevent self-injury and suicide in children on antidepressants, everyone (patients, parents,
teachers, and other important people in the lives of young people) should pay close attention to sudden
changes in their moods or behaviors. These are listed below under What to watch for. Whenever an
antidepressant is started or its dose is changed, close attention is needed.
In general, after starting an antidepressant, patients should see their doctor
- Once a week for four weeks.
- Every 2 weeks for the next month.
- At the end of their 12th week taking the drug.
- More often if problems or questions arise.
- What to Watch Out For in Children on Antidepressants.
If any of the following behaviors appear
for the first time, seem worse, or worry the child, parent, or guardian, a medical professional should be
contacted right away.
- New or more thoughts of suicide.
- Trying to commit suicide.
- New or worse depression.
- New or worse anxiety.
- Feeling very agitated or restless.
- Panic attacks.
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
- New or worse irritability.
- Acting aggressive, being angry, or violent.
- Acting on dangerous impulses.
- Being extremely hyperactive in actions and talking (hypomania or mania).
- Other unusual changes in behavior
- The Benefits and Risks of Antidepressants.
Antidepressants are used to treat people with depression. Depression can lead to suicide. In some people,
treatment with an antidepressant causes suicidal thinking or actions or makes them worse. The doctor, the
patient, and the patient's parents or guardians should discuss all treatment choices, including the use of
Of all antidepressants, only fluoxetine (brand name: Prozac) has been FDA approved to treat pediatric depression.
For obsessive compulsive disorder, FDA considers only fluoxetine (brand name: Prozac), sertraline
(brand name: Zoloft), fluvoxamine (no marketed brand name product), and clomipramine (brand name:
Anafranil) to be of proven benefit in children and teens.
The past experiences of the patient with other treatments or antidepressants may lead the doctor to suggest
other antidepressants than the ones listed above.
For some young people, the risks of suicidal behaviors caused by antidepressants may be especially high.
These include young people with
- Bipolar illness (sometimes called manic-depressive illness).
- A family history of bipolar illness.
- A personal or family history of attempting suicide
If any of these are present, make sure the doctor knows about them before the doctor prescribes any antidepressant.
- Is this all I need to know about antidepressants?
No. This is a general warning for all antidepressants about suicidality. Other side effects can occur with
antidepressants. Be sure to ask the doctor to explain all the side effects of the particular drug you are
taking. Ask your pharmacist where to find additional information.
The above information is from the FDA website.