Around 40,000 children are taking antidepressants when talking through their problems could be of more help, a Government health watchdog warned yesterday. For the first time, national guidelines have been issued telling doctors not to prescribe pills as a 'first line' remedy for depression in under-18s. Instead, GPs should offer children psychological 'talking' therapies, says the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
The advice comes amid growing
concern that doctors are doling out antidepressants as an easy option, when
taking pills may actually increase the risk of suicide in adolescents. These
fears led to the majority of modern antidepressants known as selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) being banned from use in children two years ago.
The exception was Prozac otherwise known as fluoxetine. But even then it was estimated that, at best, the drug helps only one in ten depressed youngsters. In 2003, the number of children taking antidepressants was put at 50,000 but, despite the ban, that figure has only fallen to around 40,000.
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