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Jackson 1 Hunter Jackson Barringer English 10 16 May 2011 Antidepressants in Adolescents For years, antidepressant drugs have been

prescribed to young people as if they were a miracle cure that will stop any form of anxiety. However, this is not the case for most adolescents who end up taking these drugs. The prescription of antidepressant drugs can have severely adverse effects in young people. Antidepressant drugs should not be prescribed to our youth in order to avoid the harmful effects that can ensue from the use of these drugs. The increase in use of antidepressant drugs could be a result of overprescribing to these age groups, subjecting them to high risks with no results. According to a nationwide sample, the prescription of antidepressant drugs grew exponentially between the years 1998 and 2002. On average, the number of children medicated for depression increased annually by 9.2 percent (Delate). Parents bring their children to a doctor desperate for a cure to even the most inconsequential sense of strange behavior. Parents overreact because they care about their children, but when the doctors ask, parents will subliminally exaggerate symptoms, causing doctors to wrongfully prescribe drugs. Improper prescription is common among young patients due to their inability to describe symptoms for themselves. Children who have certain psychiatric diseases, such as bipolar disorder, are given antidepressants during periods of mania when they should really be taking an entirely different medication. As a result, when the mania period ends, the likelihood of enhanced depression after the medication wears off is increased (Therapist

Jackson 2 Louisville Bureau). Subjecting children to this possible variability and uncertainty in emotions is in no way ideal. Antidepressants are not always effective. The doctors at admit that, choosing the right drug and dosage is a trial and error process (Smith, Robinson and Segal). With so many different types of depression medication, and different dosage options, this process can be lengthy if the correct prescription is even found. Studies have shown that fewer than 50 percent of patients actually benefit from the use of antidepressants, and of this small proportion very few are completely cleared of all symptoms (Smith, Robinson and Segal). It is difficult to tell in teenagers exactly what result antidepressant medication is having because of the natural mood swings that come with puberty. Younger children may not know that what they are feeling is abnormal, leaving doctors and parents distinguishing between depression and strange behavior on their own. Researchers who study side effects in children sometimes ask the wrong questions or not enough questions (Harvard Medical School). Not knowing exactly what is happening in a childs mind is a key reason why doctors give the wrong drugs. The uncertainty that lies in whether or not the drugs will work is not worth the small possibility of recovery. Antidepressants are only a temporary solution to a problem, which returns as soon as the drugs wear off. Melinda Smith. Ph. D. said, Antidepressants arent a silver bullet for depression (Smith, Robinson and Segal). Depression is a mental disorder and the most effective way to treat this type of issue is to face the problem head on. There is no medicinal cure for autism, however drugs can be used to make certain symptoms latent (Saslow), and depression is a similar situation. Therapy is the only way to treat an underlying problem that may be the basis for adolescent depression, which is almost always caused by a traumatic experience (Smith,

Jackson 3 Robinson and Segal). Masking problems with a false sense of happiness is not the answer to adult problems, and should not be the solution for children. Giving these drugs to young people can induce addictive behaviors that will follow them for the rest of their lives. A child who has underlying issues is at high risk of becoming addicted to depression medication (Harvard Medical School). Many Children who have these issues come from families where addiction in the parents is the fundamental cause at home. Children whose parents struggle with addiction are likely to have inherited that gene, and therefore would be at high risk of becoming addicted. When this child becomes addicted to the feeling of this legal drug, but is no longer under prescription, it is likely that they will search for a similar high on illegal drugs. Even adults must be weaned off of depression medication (Smith, Robinson and Segal). If adults must gradually reduce their intake of antidepressant medication, the effect will be multiplied in children, which makes it extremely difficult for them to be taken off the drugs without having negative side effects. Children who abruptly stop taking an antidepressants are likely to develop discontinuation syndrome, which is when a persons body reacts to the absence of a drug (Harvard Medical School). Discontinuation syndrome being prevalent in children would make it difficult to stop medicating the child even when he or she is cured. The childs body has become addicted to the medication and will not behave normally without it. Children and teenagers are at a higher risk for suicide than adults while taking antipsychotic drugs. A childs body does not deal with foreign materials in the same way an adults would (Harvard Medical School). We cannot give our children medicines assuming that they will be safe just because it hasnt hurt adults. Each person reacts to any medication differently, but when this medication alters brain functions, it is not to be taken lightly. The risks of a medication should not be ignored simply because a low percentage of adult patients showed

Jackson 4 side effects while taking the drug. Children and teenagers are more likely to have an increase in depressive behavior instead of a decrease than adults are (Smith, Robinson and Segal). In Its Kind of a Funny Story, a novel based on the authors true experience, the teenage boy is forced to check into a mental hospital when he stopped taking his medicine. He had developed discontinuation syndrome, and this particular instance showed the effect of suicidal thought (Vizzini). Many teens do not get help when suicidal thoughts occur, and when people find out it is too late. Young people often have trouble expressing their true emotions about anything, but when it comes to abnormal thoughts, teenagers especially tend to remain to themselves. In an FDA study, twice as many teenagers on actual depression medication attempted suicide or reported suicidal thoughts than those who were given the placebo (National Institute of Mental Health). If it has been proven that antidepressants can be the cause of depression or even suicide in young people, why are they still prescribed? Some doctors may argue that antidepressant drugs are useful in treating a child with depression. However, the precarious diagnosis and the mental and physical risks far outweigh the small benefits. The FDA does not fully support the use of certain antidepressant drugs in young people due to the possibly deadly effects it may have, however the drug is legal (Harvard Medical School). This means that even if that drug is working for a child, they are most likely closely monitored by doctors just to ensure that their daily medicine will not kill them. Our mental states as children, even into our teenage years impact the ways in which we live our lives. For this reason, doctors should not be prescribing drugs early in life that can have detrimental effects in the psyche of the child. Correctly prescribing a psychotic drug to a child is difficult because as children, our minds are not fully developed, therefore diagnosing a problem is nearly impossible.

Jackson 5 Antidepressants do not solve problems; they hide abnormal feelings that will return. While advancing technology and medical discovery has undoubtedly improved health and the lives of those in our society, todays youth is more medicated than ever before. Its almost hard to believe that anyone lived past the age of twenty before science discovered the medication we are equipped with today. Risking the mental and physical health of young people should not be an option when there are more secure and reliable ways to go about curing depression.

Jackson 6 WORKS C ITED Delate, Thomas Psychiatric Services. April 2004. 8 May 2011 <>. Harvard Medical School. Harvard Health Publications. 2003. 8 May 2011 <>. National Institute of Mental Health. Antidepressant Medications for Children and Adolescents: Information for Parents and Caregivers. 6 May 2011. 8 May 2011 <>. Saslow, Eric. "The Help Group." 2003. Medication Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders. 8 May 2011 <>. Smith, Melinda, Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal. Antidepressants. November 2010. 8 May 2011 <>. Therapist Louisville Bureau. The Over-Prescription of Antidepressants, Even Against Guidelines. 21 September 2010. 8 May 2011 <>. Vizzini, Ned. It's Kind of a Funny Story. New York: Miramax Books, 2007.