Preschoolers and children up to the age of 18, remain to be a fast growing market in the world of antidepressants. Research has shown that over 4 percent are clinically depressed and taking medication, which equates to over one million children on antidepressants. This rate has been reported to be increasing.
Statistics have shown that depression will be the second largest killer, behind heart disease, by 2020. However, depression is also a contributing factor towards coronary disease and it results in more absenteeism than the majority of physical disorders .
Doctors have suggested that antidepressants should be taken alongside cognitive behavioral therapy, in order to combat depression effectively. This is because recent figures have indicated that antidepressants only work for 30 percent of the depressed population.
Many antidepressants have significant risks. Prozac, Aropax and Zoloft have all been connected to suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding and brain tumors. Governmental concerns have been raised over the use of antidepressants to treat children, as preschoolers remain a fast growing market.
Studies and research, has highlighted five primary reasons this type of medication is not good for the health of children. Firstly, weight issues are a common attribute to antidepressants. Depending upon the type of drug, patients can perceive weight loss or gain. Sexual health later in life, is another issue as decreased sexual interest, failure to reach orgasm and erectile dysfunction, are all common side effects. This is mainly with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Thirdly, studies have found problems with sperm in patients who take antidepressants. 40 percent of 35 healthy patients in a 2009 study, who all received doses of Paxil for four weeks, had sperm with fragmented DNA, which can affect fertility. Some studies have also found SSRIs produce lower bone density and more hip fractures in older people. However, there have been discrepancies over these findings. Lastly, there is a critical potential link between antidepressants and suicide. Again, these findings remain under investigation as many researchers differ. However, some studies have associated antidepressants with increased risks of suicide, especially in children.
With researchers disputing the side effects taking this medication could have, is it really right to prescribe people under the age of 18 with it? Although these drugs might be useful for children, the evidence is mixed and conflicting, which is why in Britain, antidepressants have been banned from children with the exception of Prozac.
Approximately one in 11 children experience some form of depression by the time they are 14 years old, one in every 33 children are effected by depression, and also one in eight adolescents suffer from depression. Reports have stated that unless childhood depression is stopped or caught early and properly treated, the risk for relapse is very high, with each successive episode growing more severe.
As preschoolers remain a fast growing market in the world of antidepressants, researchers have stated that treatment needs to be further investigated in order to find the right treatment to prevent children suffering with depression. With the potential risks that come with antidepressants, many researchers are adamant that CBT is the best form of treatment, as it attempts to get to the root of the problem. However, as some drugs have been proven effective, a vast amount of children are still being prescribed varying antidepressant medication.
By Melissa McDonald