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The People (London, England)
Article date: April 16, 2000
Author: Bessant, Lisa; Bletchly, Rachael
THIS terrified schoolgirl was prescribed the controversial “happy drug” Prozac at the age of TEN – and her parents say it turned her into a suicidal monster.
Little Amie Perrett’s GP gave her the controversial adult anti-depressant – linked in the US to violence, murder and suicide – after she became the victim of school bullies. But within days Amie:
FLEW into violent tantrums.
THREATENED to kill herself.
ATTACKED her six-year-old brother.
SWALLOWED a whole bottle of the drug.
Her horrified mum Tracy, 27, told the Sunday People: “It was a shattering experience. What sort of a world do we live in when our kids are given anti-depressants at 10?”
Tracy who has three other children – Tony, six, Tyrone, four and 18-month-old Tyler – was deeply worried when her doctor prescribed Prozac for Amie.
But she was desperate for help for her daughter who had suffered months of bullying at her new school and had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder – the syndrome that usually hits victims of war and disasters.
Tracy, of Crewkerne, Somerset, said: “Initially I was shocked by the prescription.
“I’d heard about adults getting addicted to Prozac. But I trusted the doctor’s judgement.”
The GP prescribed 5 millilitres of Prozac in liquid form every day.
Within 24 hours Amie seemed to brighten up. But on the second day she had a violent tantrum.
“It was a hundred times worse than before,” says Tracy.
“She started screaming, thrashing her arms up and down and tearing around the house.
“And it wasn’t a one-off. It happened every day. Then one evening we were watching TV and I heard Amie mumbling over and over again. ‘I want to kill myself’.
“I found letters in her handwriting from imaginary friends, telling her to kill herself and awful drawings on her dressing table of people with horrific wounds, blood pouring everywhere.
“I realised it all tied in with Prozac. I felt we were losing our little girl and booked to see the doctor to discuss taking her off it.”
But before the appointment, there was almost tragedy.
Three weeks after starting on Prozac, Amie pushed her little brother Tony off park swings and he cracked his head open.
While Tracy and husband Stuart, 33, rushed him to casualty Amie stayed at home with her grandmother.
But when her gran’s back was turned Amie climbed on to a sideboard to reach her Prozac – and swallowed most of the bottle.
Tracy says: “We rushed back to casualty for the second time that night and although we were told she wasn’t in danger doctors kept her in for observation. When we brought her home next day she told me that she wished she was dead. It was heartbreaking.”
Tracy and Stuart stopped the Prozac immediately without waiting for consultations.
Now, two weeks later, Tracy says: “We’ve seen an instant change. She seems to be much better and we are talking to her school again to see what else we can do to tackle the bullying.
“Amie has been through a terrible ordeal but I think the drug just made things worse.
“I can’t believe doctors have the right to prescribe a drug like Prozac to kids as young as 10.
“That’s not solving the problem, it’s putting a plaster over the wound.”
Amie’s GP refused to comment.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
CLINICAL psychologist Professor Steve Baldwin of the University of Teesside said: “I can see no conceivable reason why Prozac should be given to a ten-year-old. It is scandalous and completely wrong. Prozac can make children violent and aggressive.”
Dr Ann York, a child psychiatrist of Richmond, Surrey, said: “A child affected by bullying would benefit more from counselling and family therapy.”
WHAT THE MAKERS SAY
THE American drugs giant that makes Prozac, Eli Lilly, insists the US authorities have cleared Prozac of any links with violent or suicidial behaviour.
But spokesman Derek Anthony said: “It has not been tested on children and therefore we cannot recommend it or promote it for use in children.
“But a doctor has the freedom to prescribe whatever he thinks is most appropriate for his patient.”
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