There's something new that teenagers need to know about taking antidepressants
Depression can be overwhelming. It takes over your life, making it hard to focus and causing even the smallest of tasks seem tiring. There’s absolutely zero shame in treating depression with medication, but according to scary new research, most antidepressants might be ineffective for children and teens.
A study published in The Lancet found that of 14 antidepressants, only one was more effective at relieving symptoms of depression in young people than a placebo pill. That pill was Fluoxetine, better known by its brand name Prozac or Sarafem.
What’s even scarier is that taking Venlafaxine, also known as Effexor, actually increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts when compared to a placebo pill and five other antidepressants. Back in 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration even issued a warning that any antidepressant use in people under the age of 24 could increase suicidal thoughts and behavior.
This is a serious issue that isn’t going away. Depression affects roughly 3 percent of children ages 6 to 12, and 6 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 18. The fact that most antidepressants are ineffective for young people is a big problem, and we need to find a better solution. Our childhood and teenage years are so, so important to our development and to be fighting something like depression with no relief could have lasting impacts.
Hopefully treatment of depression amongst young people becomes a priority, and fast. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, an estimated 2.8 million adolescents had at least one major depressive episode in 2014. That’s 11 percent of the population and they need treatment options.