There is no denial. Recently, there has been a rise in numbers of children being prescribed with antidepressants. According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, there are a total of 7,213,599 children ranging from the range of 0 to 17 years old.
And to many, this is considered a medical milestone. A treatment for something for the untouchable? A cure for a state of mind? Some would even go as far as to call it “magic.”
However, there is more to consider. Not too many people have realized that the United States Food and Drug Administration has issued a black box warning, the strictest label on certain drugs and drug products in association with serious hazards (like cigarettes and alcohol), on all antidepressants prescribed to people up to the age of 24. On top of this, recent studies shows that there are no clear benefits to treat adolescents and children with antidepressants.
In my personal opinion, too many people get their head wrapped around the idea of a “cure.” A cure is definitive. It heals regardless of conditions, and frankly, antidepressants don’t fall under this category. It’s a treatment and to some it works, and to others it doesn’t.
An 18 year old Carlos shares his personal opinions about antidepressants with JSR.
“I don’t encourage them whatsoever,” he says. “Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but regardless I believe that taking antidepressants is a mental game. People who take them, regardless of age, think that everything will end up okay and that they will feel better. But it doesn’t happen like that; people are just hopelessly relying on some ‘chemical balance’ for their happiness.”He argues that a better alternative is to let children with clinical depression make the changes that they want. “That way they’re not expecting from anything but themselves.”
In regards to his personal experience with taking antidepressants, Carlos compares it with being told to find his “happy place.” “As if I was six years old.” Ryan, who is 17 years old agrees and shares his personal opinions and experiences with JSR.
“I personally hate taking my medications,” he says. “It makes me feel moody, reclusive, and I end up losing my appetite. The only benefits from the drug is that it mellows me out and helps me focus, but at the cost of emotional state.”
When it comes to prescribing adolescents with antidepressants, it all comes down to: Every person is different. Someone may feel few side effects and many benefits, and others may experience even more distress and unstability than before. But, it’s unreasonable to assume that all 7,213,599 children and adolescents are reacting to antidepressants ideally. It’s depressing that the first line of defense for clinical depression and other mental cases used by so many is so risky and unpredictable.
Evan Kim, Grade 12
Valencia High School