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The Daily Mail
By Harriet Hernando for MailOnline
Published: 17:14 GMT, 9 March 2016 | Updated: 14:11 GMT, 10 March 2016
- World Health Organisation said rise in prescriptions was ‘concerning’
- There are concerns the drugs can trigger suicide in young people
- Here, three teenagers tell their stories of being given antidepressants
- One experienced sweats, sickness, and suicidal thoughts coming off them
Soaring numbers of children are being prescribed antidepressants, alarming new figures revealed today.
The number of young people given the drugs has increased by more than 50 per cent in seven years, according to a World Health Organisation study.
Experts called the rise ‘concerning’ and said it raises questions about whether antidepressants are being prescribed without sufficient reason.
There are concerns the drugs could trigger suicidal behaviour in young people with developing brains, a warning that caused usage to temporarily dip in 2004.
Alarming: The number of young people prescribed antidepressants has increased by more than 50 per cent in seven years, according to a World Health Organisation study
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) state the drugs should not be used to treat mild depression in children.
Even when they are used to treat a child with moderate to severe depression, they should not be used except in combination with psychological therapy.
This is because there are fears they could trigger suicidal behaviour in young people with developing brains.
Here, three people who know the devastating side effects of the medication only too well, share their terrifying stories…
‘ANTIDEPRESSANTS MADE ME FEEL MORE DEPRESSED’
Danny Bowman, 21, from Alnwick, Northumberland, was similarly prescribed anti-depressants while on the waiting list to access therapy through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
He said: ‘I was given antidepressants when I was 15 as a crutch, while I waited four months to see a psychologist.
‘It was scary being put on tablets for the first time and looking back, I don’t think it was the right thing to do. Danny Bowman, 21, says taking antidepressants made him feel even more depressed, and therapy was a much more helpful form of treatment” class=”blkBorder img-share”/>
Depressed: Danny Bowman, 21, says taking antidepressants made him feel even more depressed, and therapy was a much more helpful form of treatment
‘I took them for one year, but I don’t think they helped me at all.
‘In fact they only made me feel more depressed.
‘It would have been better if therapy had been available straight away.’
Mr Bowman was later diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder.
He stopped taking medication and is currently seeing a therapist.
He said: ‘Personally, I find talking about my issues the most helpful form of treatment.
‘But everyone if different, and some people will respond to medication better than others.
‘I just don’t think antidepressants should be prescribed as a crutch while a teenager is waiting to access
Hell: Sarah Dale, 22, took antidepressants for five years and experienced sweating, sickness and suicidal thoughts when she tried to come off them
‘DISHED OUT LIKE SMARTIES’
Sarah Dale, 22, from Newtown, Powys, says she experienced suicidal thoughts shortly after starting to take medication when she was 16.
Sarah took anti-depressants for five years, before being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and finally accessing appropriate therapy last year.
Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people experience symptoms including feeling distressed, worthless, but can also lose touch with reality.
Miss Dale said: ‘I wasn’t warned I could experience such intrusive thoughts.
‘Because anti-depressants are classed as the “happy pill” I thought that that was how I would feel all the time.
‘But it couldn’t have been further from the reality. I felt nothing, just numb, neither happy or sad.’
‘The worst thing was, I became heavily dependent on them. When it came to withdrawing from them, it was hell.
‘I was experiencing sweats, sickness, and suicidal thoughts.
‘I’m not against medication as it can bring normality to some people’s lives, but I don’t think they should be dished out like smarties.
‘They can have serious consequences – especially on a child’s developing brain. I’m convinced that I now have short term memory loss as a result of those five years I spent on medication.’
‘TAKE THIS AND YOU WILL BE FINE’
Laura Heydon, 19, from Manchester, was given anti-depressants when she was just 12 years old after her grandparents died.
She said: ‘They just handed them straight over as if to say, ‘take this and you will be fine.’
I wasn’t given any information on what the side effects would be and as a child, I just did as I was told; I didn’t question it.
‘I started to have suicidal thoughts – something I’d never experienced before.
‘I didn’t understand why I was feeling that way, or that it could be a side effect of the medication.’
Miss Heydon then had to wait six months before she was able to talk to a therapist from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).