Child antidepressant prescriptions are nearing 500,000 a year

In Britain, The Times published this story by Ben Spence and Lorna Perry on the marked increase in the prescribing of antidepressants for under-18s in the UK, including nearly 4,000 annually for children younger than 10. The piece also includes a form at bottom for anyone who knows a child on such drugs:

“Nearly 500,000 antidepressant prescriptions are being given out to children each year, despite guidelines that say they should be used only in the most severe cases.

Experts said the figures revealed the scale of the mental health crisis among the young, with NHS services struggling to cope. Charities said many children were being given pills — despite the risk of side effects — because the waiting lists for psychological services were too long.

Prescriptions for under-18s in England have increased 44 per cent since 2015, according to data presented to parliament last week, rising from 312,000 in 2015-16 to 448,515 in 2022-23.

Last year, 3,920 of those were given to children under the age of ten. . . . 

Possible side effects in children include thoughts about suicide and self-harm, and, for older teenagers, impaired sexual drive and function. It can be difficult to come off antidepressants, with many people experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the charity Sane, said: ‘We have created a generation of lost, lonely and disconnected young people. There is no doubt that we are facing an epidemic of mental ill health among this group. But one way or another, we should not be handing out antidepressants to children simply because there’s nothing else to offer.’”

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