Treating Childhood Depression with Antidepressants
Treating childhood depression with antidepressants should be the last recourse. Anti-depressants have high potency so should be used with caution in children. Treating childhood depression is possible only after complete evaluation of the child. Read on to know more.
Depression is a disorder that should be treated at the earliest; else it can pose considerable problems in the later life of the child as he grows up. It not only affects the overall mood of the child but also negatively impacts his performance and behaviour at school, attitude at home and relationship with parents and friends.
Almost 5% of children and adolescents are found to be affected by depression. According to various researches, this depression in children is definitely treatable with antidepressant drugs. These medications should not be used at will but administered under strict supervision. The effects are significant when the antidepressants are coupled with psychotherapy.
A Bit of Doubt
Amongst the counsellors and medical practitioners there have been serious differences in opinion regarding at what stage and whether at all anti-depression medications should be administered to children. This is keeping in mind the potency of the drug and the possible side effects, some of which manifest themselves in the later stages of the child’s life. However, it is the expertise of the doctor that plays a big role in ascertaining the wellbeing and recovery of the child from the clutches of depression.
Observation Is Always the Primary Cue
If the parents or the teacher at school feels that the child is sinking into depression, the symptoms should be carefully observed and analysed at first. The doctor should gather as many inputs as possible from all relevant sources and tally them with his own analysis of the child’s behaviour. If the depression is past its initial stage where it becomes a cause of serious worry that the child can harm himself or others around him, the appropriate anti-depressants should be resorted to. But cognitive behavioural therapy should always be the first discourse.
Usually according to the requirements, children are administered Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). They are considered and tested to have fewer side effects. However, care should be taken that overdoses are strictly avoided. This is a dynamic research field where new medications are being continuously tested and invented. Given below are list of common anti-depressant drugs that are administered to children:
Celexa – Citalopram
Lexapro – Escitalopram
Luvox – Fluvoxamine
Paxil – Paroxetine
Prozac – Fluxetine
Zoloft – Sertraline
(The names of the drugs mentioned above are only for informational purpose and it should not be considered as substitute to your own physician’s or other medial professional’s advice.)
If you go by the reports and studies of the National School of Medical Health, you will find that they consider Prozac as the only anti-depressant drug that can be safely administered on children suffering from depression, not below the age of eight. This medicine is also approved by the Federal Drug Association.
Prozac is found to be very effective in treating depressive symptoms in children. However, there are also studies that have proven this drug has also induced suicidal tendencies in some adolescents. So, due care must be taken while administering the medicine. The other drugs are approved for adults, but for children they are actually ‘Off-label’.
The final word of caution is always careful and absolute monitoring not only by the doctor but also by the parents on the developments and the behavioural changes in the child. Any change in behaviour must be immediately reported to the doctor as they may be signs of other associated symptoms.
Always follow the directions regarding dosages and timings as suggested by the doctor and never stop the medicine without the doctor’s approval. Adolescent depression, regardless of the stage it is in is definitely curable. And as mentioned earlier, medicines work best when combined with psychotherapy.
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What are common anti-depressant medications for treating childhood depression? When is a child suffering from depression given anti-depressants? Which is the safe anti-depressant drug for treating depression in children?