Posted by: Yolande | 2009/09/11

Antidepressants and children

A psychiatrist at Weskoppies hospital prescribed Cipramil 20mg for my 13 year old son. Is it safe for him to take them because I' ve read that it shouldn' t be taken by children younger than 18 years as it can cause suicidal thoughts etc.

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OK, several aspects here. If a proper diagnosis of severe depression has been made, there is a need for treatment, especially if there is, for instance, a risk of suicide. And we too often ignore the presence of severe depression, and suicide risk, in youngsters. Are antidepressants in general, safe in children ? We;;, there have been for various understandable reasons, far fewer good studies in children, but they seem to be generally safe, and for instance, some of the older antidepressants have been used to treat bed-wetting, without problems.
The issue of whether any antidepressant atually increases suicidal thinking is still controversial. Obviously, because ADs are given, selectively, to the most depressed and suicidal people around, there will still be some suicides in people who take them, even though this doesn't convincingly seem to be caused by them.
There do seem to be somewhat more concerns about the possibility of suicide in kids on ADs, but then adolescents are also prone to suicide and to impulsive actions, too.
This should be discused with the prescribing doctor, and of course treatment of depression at any age should not be limited to the use of AD drugs. There also needs to be counselling and talking with the lad, and vigilance to keep an eye open for self-damagin behaviour --- as would be needed in any case with a depressed youngster

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