Antidepressant prescriptions for youth on the rise

After an initial decline in 2004, antidepressant prescriptions for youth are increasing.

Posted: Jan. 9, 2018 9:50 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - The number of antidepressants being prescribed to youth began to decline after the Food and Drug Administration told pharmaceutical companies to issue a black-box warning, potentionally linking the antidepressants to suicidal thoughts among youth. 

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But recent findings show the number of antidepressant prescriptions to youth is up again

Dr. Paul Croarkin is the division chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Mayo Clinic. He said there could be a number of reasons prescriptions are up, including the actual number of youth experiencing depression could be on the rise. 

He said there are reports of some suicidal behaviors in youth as a result of antidepressants, but he said this side effect is rare. 

"For some reason patients below the ages of 24 may have a slight increased risk to a poor response to one of these medications," Croarkin said. "This is very rare, it's important for people to realize."

Croarkin said one theory as to why youth have this increased risk could because their brains are still developing. But overall, he said medication is a useful solution for the right case and is best used in combination with other therapies and lifestyle treatments. 

"Other what I call lifestyle treatments are very important, things that are good for healthy brain in general. Adequate sleep, and what's calls sleep hygiene. Same bed time every day, same get up time every day, every day of the year," he said. 

Dr. Croarkin said there is also emerging evidence showing intense cardio can also have antidepressant effects on the brain. 

He told us one of the biggest misconceptions of depression is that it's not real. 

"As a psychiatrist and as a parent what I think about a lot is...the stigma of mental illness. And that we tend to think of things like depression are just somehow different than other medical diagnosis," he said. 

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