Thu, Oct 27, 2016 | updated 06:16 PM IST

Prescribing anti-depressants to children raised by 30% in 10 years: Study

Updated: Sep 10, 2016 12:05 IST

London [England], Sept. 10 (ANI): A recent study says that though there's a steep rise in prescribing of anti-depressants to children over the last decade, more than 40 percent are drugs, which do not work and can even have toxic side-effects.

The study was conducted on around 3,60,000 patients aged between six to 18 in Wales and it found that there had been an increase of 28

percent in anti-depressants given out by general practitioners, reports the Independent.

The consumption of these drugs raises fears of the "medicalisation" of unhappiness and the ordinary emotional turmoil experienced by


However, the researchers also analyzed the other aspect of it and said it could also be because the stigma attached to mental health problems

is falling gradually and the children are now getting the help they required.

Interestingly, while the number of prescriptions per kid, went up, the number of diagnoses of depression fell, which was a sign that doctors

were trying to avoid "labelling" young people as mentally ill.

Girls were three times more likely than boys to be given anti-depressants and children from the most deprived areas were twice

as likely as those in the least deprived to be given anti-depressants.

The increase in prescribing was most pronounced among older teenagers with the level remaining fairly stable among six to 10-year-olds.

Ann John, the lead researcher said, "The main issue is whether they being prescribed with enough cause. The rise in prescribing may

reflect a genuine increase in depression and its symptoms, or increased awareness and better treatment by GPs, or poor access to

psychological therapies and specialist care, or even increased help-seeking."

She added, "There's lots of debate about 'are we medicalising unhappiness?'. Some of these feelings are part of the normal human experience . things that are just part of growing up."

Another problem highlighted by the researchers was that doctors were still giving the drug citalopram to treat depression in young people,

despite official guidance not to do this.

"Citalopram has a known toxicity in overdose and there were warnings given about it in 2011," she said, adding, "About a third of the prescribing was given to 18-year-olds, all the rest was given to kids ... outside the prescribing guidance."

She said that ecent research had showed fluoxetine, sold under the trade name Prozac, was the only drug that had been shown to work with

minimal side effects in children.

Citalopram should only be given to children, if cognitive behavioural therapy and other medicines prove to be not effective and the patient

should be closely monitored.

Asked if it was "dangerous" for children, she said prescribing it in the first instance was "not ideal".

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), citalopram's side-effects can include hepatitis, heart

palpitations, haemorrhage, aggression, amnesia, euphoria and "paradoxical increased anxiety".

There have even been concerns its use is linked to children taking their own lives. (ANI)