It is important to weigh all of the factors when it comes to teenage antidepressant use. While the medication does help some teens manage depression, like every medication, there are risks. Depression is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, and nobody should feel like they can’t find help. However, with teenage antidepressant use, it is important that parents understand the risks.
In a previous post I spoke about recognizing depression in your teens, and what warning signs to look for, but we really didn’t talk about medication. When it comes to teenage antidepressants, it is going to be important to understand that these medications have been tested, almost exclusively, on adults. The impact these medications have on the rapidly developing brain of teens has not been fully explored as of this writing.
One of the main concerns here is the possibility that teenage antidepressant use can potentially slow brain development in teens & young adults. Also, with teenage antidepressant use there is concern regarding a teens ability to process and handle stress.
This is why it is important that teens also learn accompanying activities that will contribute to their emotional well-being. Daily exercise and the proper use of coping skills are a great addition to any depression treatment.
With the risk of suicide being greatest during the first few months of regular medication use, currently the FDA requires companies to put warning labels on antidepressants regarding the risks in children, adolescents, and young adults.
Call a doctor if you notice…
1. New thoughts of suicide.
2. Increased thoughts of suicide.
3. Increasingly worse depression, anxiety, agitation, and restlessness.
4. Panic Attacks.
If your teen has been prescribed SSRI’s (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) ask your doctor about the potential side effects and contraindications.
Personally, I would also talk about setting up a structured amount of check-ins and evaluations, especially during those first couple months of use, and after changing medications or dosage quantities.
To be more specific, the FDA warns against the use of Paxil for children and teen depression, in favor of something like Prozac.
Now, this is where I want you to pay close attention. This is not meant to scare you away from teen antidepressant use. The goal here is to make you aware of the risks, and to start asking questions in order to be proactive in your teens treatment.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, are in danger, or are feeling suicidal, call 911 immediately. Additionally you can call, or text, the suicide hotline at the numbers listed below.
Immediate Medical Assistance: 911
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863