What are the Pros and Cons of Antidepressants for Teenagers?

Antidepressants for Teenagers Picture - LocateADoc.comThere was a time when mental ailments like depression were a concern only for grown-ups and middle-aged people. With the times changing as fast as they have, depression is no more confined to the mentioned groups. Modern lifestyle which includes changed environment at home, neighborhood, school and the peer group have taken their toll on the mental health of our children. 
Depression in children and teenagers is a serious health issue. This is a grave disorder which causes significant changes in mood, thinking and behavior of the child/teenager towards his/her parents, friends and school. Estimates say that about five percent of youngsters are affected by major depressive disorder. There has been lots of discussion regarding the effectiveness of anti-depressants for teenagers and children. One of the main reasons for the lack of apparent information about antidepressants is because we do not have enough knowledge about the pros and cons of these antidepressant drugs. This article looks at the effectiveness of using anti-depressants for teenagers and children. 


Are anti-depressants effective for youngsters?

Certain antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are effective in the management of major depressive disorder (MDD) in teenagers and children. Studies have shown that these medicines reduce moderate/severe depression symptoms in teenagers. These medicines when used in combination with psychological therapies such as Interpersonal Therapy or Cognitive Behavior Therapy have additional advantages. 


What can be the potential side-effects of antidepressants on teenagers?

The use of antidepressant medicines in teenagers depends upon the severity of their disorders. Concerns about the safety of using these medicines involves considering the probable effects and side-effects.  
  • Like any other medicines, anti-depressant medicines also have some mild and temporary side-effects such as headaches, dizziness and nausea. Sexual problems are also noticed among youngsters. Most of the people discontinue taking medicines because of this reason. 
  • One major disadvantage of using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is the increase in suicidal tendency during the initial phase of treatment. This has been a major cause of concern among physicians around the world. In order to decrease the risk of suicidal thoughts or urges, these medicines should be given in combination with psychological therapies. 


What antidepressants can teenagers take?

FDA has officially permitted the use of only one antidepressant for treating depression in youngsters and children-Fluoxetine (Prozac). Along with Prozac, escitalopram has also been approved as a safe anti-depressant for the treatment of children less than twelve years of age. However, doctors can use their medical experience to prescribe other antidepressants for children. Sertraline, fluvoxamine and clomipramine are also approved as off-label options for treating depression in children and adults. 


Should antidepressant medicines be used for youngsters?

Antidepressant medicines should not be used for treating mild depression symptoms in adolescents. However, those with moderate to severe depression disorders should be treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Fluoxetine. These medicines are not effective in reducing depression symptoms in the long-term, if the symptoms are severe or if the patient is not given psychological therapy. Antidepressants by teenagers should be used only under proper monitoring to check any signs of suicidal behavior and regular visits to the physician. The first four weeks of treatment are most important and a parent or a responsible guardian should supervise the use of antidepressants by teenagers.


Important points to consider:

  • In case of teenagers, it is important to get the right kind of help at the right time. It will help them deal with the disorder in a better way, recuperate and stay healthy.
  • Psychological therapies play a major role in the treatment of depression in young people. In some cases, antidepressants may also be required but only if the symptoms are severe or if the patient is showing no improvement with other therapies.
  • There is always a risk of increase in suicidal tendencies or urges during the first four weeks of treatment with anti-depressants.
  • Your doctor must give you a list of pros and cons with clear info about antidepressants and the steps to take in a crisis or emergency situation. 
  • With the right kind of treatment, most teenagers come out from depression and lead a healthy life. 
Learn more about depression including symptoms, causes, treatment options, types of doctors and doctor reviews in our Depression Resource Guide.

Photo By vanessa_hutd [Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/svenjajan/]