The use of antidepressants is on the rise for children in the United States today. So researchers ask, is this safe? Apparently it is not according to new reports.
Many doctors today are quick to prescribe antidepressants to youngsters facing emotional and psychological problems. But experts say there is a link between antidepressants and higher suicide rates.
High doses of antidepressants raise the chances of suicidal behavior in children. Experts are warning physicians not to prescribe antidepressants in such dose levels anymore, especially not when the child/teenager is first starting the medication.
CBS explains how the research was conducted, “No studies have looked at suicide risk by drug dosage, as the latest study did. For the research, the study authors pulled information from a large prescription claims database. The study included more than 162,000 patients aged 10 to 64 with a diagnosis of depression who started taking an SSRI medication between 1998 and 2010. Researchers restricted their analysis to three of the most common antidepressants: Celexa, Zoloft, Prozac. They separated users into those who started at the recommended dosages of those medications, or those who were prescribed higher-than-recommended doses of the drugs. The normal doses were 20 milligrams per day for Celexa, 50 milligrams per day for Zoloft and 20 milligrams per day for Prozac. Patients who were initially prescribed more than one drug were excluded from the study.”
The results were startling. “Nearly 18 percent of patients in the study were started on doses that were higher than those, in conflict with current medical guidelines. Then researchers checked patients' medical records to see how many had committed acts of deliberate self-harm within a year of starting their medications. Among those younger than 24, patients on higher doses harmed themselves at roughly twice the rate of those on lower doses. During the study period, there were 32 incidents of self-harm for every 1,000 young patients taking high doses while there were only 15 such incidents per 1,000 patients taking recommended doses. The researchers further estimated that doctors would see one additional case of self-injury for every 136 younger patients treated with higher-than-recommended doses of antidepressants. And the risk of suicide attempts seemed to be highest in the first 90 days on the medications,” according to CBS.
Experts are emphasizing the importance of doctors prescribing counseling for children rather than immediately going to antidepressants, as these medications cause serious – and sometimes fatal – outcomes and side effects.