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March 23, 2013
Suicide attorney Skip Simpson of the Law Offices of Skip Simpson said today psychiatrists who prescribe antidepressants should be aware of a recent study about the possible adverse effects these drugs have on children and teenagers.
The study examined the effects of fluoxetine (i.e., Prozac, Sarafem) and venlafaxine (Effexor), according to Forbes Magazine on Feb. 10. According to the report, adults react differently to antidepressants than children. Adults who were treated with antidepressants were less depressed and had fewer suicidal thoughts and behaviors, the article states. For children and teenagers, the drugs reduce depression, but not suicidal thoughts. Results of the new study were first reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in June.
Antidepressants carry the FDA’s black box warning stating that suicidal thoughts and behavior may increase in young people taking the drugs. The black box warning has resulted in criticism, according to Forbes. After the warnings were placed on antidepressants in 2004, prescriptions for young people fell and the suicide rates in kids appeared to rise, the article states.
“Whether or not to prescribe antidepressants to kids is a complicated issue. Medical professionals need to have adequate training to understand the impact antidepressants have on their patients,” said Simpson, who helps families with suicide malpractice lawsuits. “Many psychiatrists will not hesitate to prescribe an antidepressant as a quick fix, and then not follow up with the progress of the patient. The reality is, a drug may or may not be the right answer for a kid who is depressed and has suicidal thoughts. A medical professional needs to do a thorough assessment of the at-risk patient. “
Simpson said a doctor who prescribes an antidepressant to a child needs to continue to carefully and frequently monitor the patient’s progress.
“If a child is taking antidepressants and is thinking more and more about committing suicide, health care officials and psychiatrists need to take these warning signs seriously,” Simpson said. “Physicians need to monitor at-risk patients closely and arm the parents with information to know how to spot concerns and when to seek immediate help for their children. They need to do whatever it takes to protect the child’s welfare. Anything less is needlessly endangering children. That’s what we expect doctors to do. And when they don’t, they need to be held accountable for their actions.”