What You Need to Know if Your Child or Teen May Need Antidepressants
If your child may need antidepressants, you need to know the following:
1. 2% to 3% of children who take antidepressants will
experience an increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior
2. In US, Prozac is the only antidepressant approved by
the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for use by children and teens, although doctors oftentimes prescribe other antidepressants.
3. All antidepressants except Prozac are illegal to
administer to children and teens in Great Britain.
4. Although Prozac may be the "least problematic," it still
carries risks and possible side effects.
5. The antidepressants with the highest incidence of
child suicide according to studies are Effexor and Paxil. Thus, you probably should not allow your child to take Effexor or Paxil.
6. There are numerous anecdotal accounts of parents who say that antidepressants caused
7. There are numerous anecdotal accounts of parents who say that antidepressants helped
8. It is a good idea to get more than one opinion if your child may need antidepressants.
Consult with as many health professionals as possible.
9. You should learn as much as possible about antidepressants. 10. You will make the decision whether you want your child to take antidepressants or not -
do not let anyone force that decision upon you.
11. If your child does take antidepressants, monitor him or her as closely as possible,
particularly when he or she is just starting or ending antidepressant therapy.
12. If your child is going to stop taking antidepressants, it is best to slowly reduce the dosage
instead of abruptly stopping. If your child does abruptly stop taking the medication, a severe reaction may occur. Always work with your health professionals to assist you in doing this properly.
13. Antidepressants oftentimes require several weeks to begin to work. 14. Although antidepressants require time to become effective, numerous anecdotal reports
from parents have indicated that children and teens can become suicidal shortly after taking the drugs. So increased thoughts of suicide may occur within days, or even hours.
15. Antidepressants do not work for all young people. 16. The dosage may need to be altered until an optimal dosage is found. 17. Immediately report any change of behavior or problems to the health professionals who
are assisting you with the antidepressants.
18. Consider all other treatment options before using antidepressants. 19. If your child is acutely suicidal (that is, he or she is at a very high risk for suicide), he or
she should be in a hospital under very close observation.
20. Always remove everything from the house that your child may use to die by suicide. Lock
up guns and knives. Remove sharp objects. Remove or lock up medications. Remove ropes, cords, cables, etc. Think of every way that your child can die by suicide, and remove the means. Go through every room in the house, including the garage, and inspect the exterior of your house also. Remove every single potential problem.
21. Ask every question that you can think of to the medical professionals who are treating
your child, and do not leave until all of your questions are answered to your satisfaction
22. If for whatever reason you do not like the medical professionals who are treating your
child, consider finding others. You decide who will be best for your child.
23. You should talk with your child as much as possible so you will know what he or she is
thinking and feeling. And always take talk about suicide very seriously.
24. Always remember this: Your child CAN die by suicide.
Talking with Your Child about Suicide
• Without judgment, comment on the verbal
and/or non-verbal behavior that you are concerned about: "I've noticed that you have been looking sad for several days.
• "Invite your child to talk about his/her
feelings: "Tell me what's going on."
• Put yourself in your child's place; respect
• Allow your child to talk more than you do.
• Avoid unkind words that ridicule, shame or
label your child: "You get everything you want; what do you have to be depressed about."
• Ask your child one question at a time and then wait for the answer; be comfortable
• Avoid diagnosing and/or giving advice; express concern and offer reassurance. "I'm
on your side….we'll get through this together."
• Share a book, video or game about feelings to help open up the dialogue. Create a
color wheel and assign colors to feelings, use a drawing of a thermometer to gauge their feelings, or use a chart with expressions of feelings to check in with them.
• Help your child see that there are different ways of resolving his/her feelings. Discuss
the options. "You could go and talk with your teacher about the 'D' grade that you got on your last exam. Let's practice how you would talk with your teacher." or "We could get you a tutor." or "I could help you study for the next exam."
• Inform your older child about helpful resources that are available in the community,
i.e. the school nurse or counselor, a teacher, the family doctor or a church group leader. Communicate with these adults and create a support network by sharing your concerns.
• Develop a "plan of action." What does your child agree to do? What are you
committed to doing?" When will the two of you talk again? Do you need to seek professional help?
• Communicate love and acceptance of your child's feelings and acknowledge the
courage that it takes to talk about "hard things". Acknowledge your willingness to talk again.
• Of the 30 years of added life expectancy Americans have enjoyed since 1990, only 5 years were added by advances in clinical medicine• Most of the gains in life expectancy were the result of public health interventions such as improvements in water quality, sanitation, and food safety and in the development of a broad array of vaccines (Bartecchi)To develop immunity you either suffer the
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