Adolescents and Anti-depressants

Updated on August 25, 2014
S.E. asks from Landenberg, PA
12 answers

As some of you may know I have a special needs child. Several separate professionals have told me that the time has come for her to take an anti-depressant to help her ease her anxiety issues. I have many worries about this since we now know that these meds can cause all kinds of other issues for kids, including an increase in suicidal and homicidal behavior.

Can anyone offer me some info on this? What kind of meds have you gotten good results from, should I look for one med over others? How would you handle this?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your in-put. I wouldn't be asking if I did not have serious worries, but we have been through everything. She has a nutritionist since she is already on a restricted diet due to health issues. She is starting high school now and both her support worker and therapist think she is suffering. It was good to get real data about the side effects. She will be closely monitored, but I can't let her struggle like this (This past 24 hours was just SO hard for us both)

Maybe some day we will have better answers, maybe she'll be the one to find them!

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answers from New London on

I have a friend who has a daughter with severe anxiety. She said cognitive behavioral therapy, walking/exercise, daily fresh air, whole foods and no aspartame, no dyes, hardly any junk food, a good night's sleep, an anxiety support group w/ 2 other kids who have it also, limit tv/screen time, lessons in something that came easy to her (It happened to be voice lessons), calming oils, reiki and time w/ positive friends/family.

...Took a blood test to see what vitamins were low.

No meds until she was in HS.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Denver on

Anxiety is caused by fearful thinking which will change your brain chemistry. While medications can change the brain chemistry they don't treat the cause and therefore they only work temporarily. As long as the thinking stays the same the body chemistry will continue to compensate for the medication over time.

Your daughter needs cognitive therapy. She needs a good counselor and group therapy that will address her thinking by supporting her in becoming aware of her unconscious, repetitive, negative thoughts and to learn to question those thoughts deeply. DBT-Dialectical Behavior Therapy can be extremely successful if the teen chooses to implement what they learn. The title is a little deceptive because the therapy addresses emotions and thoughts more than behavior although there has to be a behavioral commitment to the process for it to be effective.

I have an 18 year old son that was extremely dedicated to changing his anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. And, after a year and a half of therapy and a 12 week DBT group he is now a different young man. He went to therapy every week and even changed therapists when he knew that he wasn't really connecting with the one he had. He chose to never be on medications of any kind even though he was pretty severe for a while. He understood that his brain chemistry was directly linked to his irrational, negative thinking and decided to go to the source rather than opt for a Band-Aid that would possibly have side effects and would not really work in the long-term.

His anxiety still shows up from time to time, but now he has tools and uses them. He is noticing that, as time goes on, the anxiety shows up less often and is less intense.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on


I won't pretend to know what all you and your daughter have been through, nor will I claim to know more than a doctor, but I would try EVERYTHING else possible before putting my child on antidepressants.

These drugs are dangerous, not approved for children (not that that stops drs from prescribing them), and have not been subjected to longitudinal studies. We have NO idea how they effect growing bodies and minds in the long term. These drugs have also been a common factor in almost every school shooting. It has been discovered that each of these young men was on a.d.meds. While the guns have gotten all of the attention as the culprits, commentary on this particular commonality has been absent altogether.

So the options I would try first (if you haven't already for more than 3 mos):

1. Completely natural, whole food diet - what you take into your body alters your brain chemistry. Synthetic chemicals used for longevity, flavor, etc have been linked to behavioral disorders again and again. This is in the labels in Europe, not here.

Julia Ross does amazing work with treating depression with amino acids, tryptophan, zinc, and B vitamins - with wonderful results. She has some great YouTube videos so you can learn more about the link between these foods/nutrients and brain chemistry, including the production and balance of serotonin. ( ,,

No sodas, energy drinks, labels and choose REAL food (if you're not already, that is!!)

2. Exercise - is now proven to be as effective in regulating brain chemicals as mild antidepressants. Have her get out and do something AEROBIC for about an hour. The combination of activity, exertion, and Vit D exposure will work wonders. (Vitamin D is almost always low in people w/depression)

3. Natural mood management - essential oils such as vetiver, cedarwood, lavender, sandalwood, citrus oils (and blends that include them) are very effective in elevating mood. No need to apply topically or take internally - often, having them on hand and inhaling the scent is enough. Young Living, doTERRA, and Plant Therapy have wonderful products that are thoroughly tested for quality.

Depression is a holistic issue and many, many people suffer from it on some level. It's not enough to disregard the recommendations above and think that a pill will be enough. It will help, but not without cost.

I pray all the best for you and your daughter as you figure out what's best for your situation. Hugs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

S., how old is your daughter exactly, and what grade is she in?

ETA: Okay, my daughter started on Celexa for anxiety at 16, the start of her junior year in HS, so she was a little older than yours.

She also had therapy, at least to begin with, and talk about the tools she can use to get through it when she feels it coming on.

She's on the lowest dose. She had tiredness at first, but that went away after a couple of weeks.

It has helped her very much. So it's been nearly a year now, I have to say it's served her well. Obviously it's not the goal to have your kid on psych meds all their lives.

She's a senior now, and a high achiever, so in the next few months will be applying for colleges, pre med, so probably not the best time to wean her off it.

Pharmacology is fascinating, every med effects every body differently. I guess we got lucky the first one she tried did the trick.

I was on Zoloft for awhile when the kids were little, it helped me a lot, I went off it without event.

You do what you feel is right in the end, okay? No pressure either way.

Hope this helps.


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answers from St. Louis on

I do not believe in giving anti-depressants to a child and much less to a special needs children, How would I handle this? I would find something else. There are too many drugs and too many reasons to prescribe strong medications to children and teenagers these days. It is just not safe. Find more information and do your search, but in places and with honest people who actually know about this matter.

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answers from Norfolk on

You just don't know how your child will react no matter what anyone tells you.
Give it a try.
It might work or it might not.
You might have to try several before you determine whether one will help or not.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If she needs an antidepressant then she needs to be on one. Sometimes it takes a few different ones to find the perfect fit. Talk to a pharmacist that can visit with you a few minutes without taking them away from a thousand refills.

I find smaller pharmacies do tend to have more time for people.

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answers from Orlando on

Have you tried any natural products yet? Research L-theanine (antioxidant) and Rescue Calm for stress and anxiety.

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answers from Portland on

I would talk more with the doctor prescribing the meds. We cannot tell you what will work for your child. Medication is very much an individual thing. Also the first med may not work. Prescribing is trying different ones until you find one that works.

As far as suicidal thoughts and harming oneself and others that is an extremely unlikely side effect. I don't know the exact statistic but I suspect it's 1% or less. Harming your daughter's mental health by not treating the chemical imbalance in her brain is much greater. Also, know that suicidal thoughts and/or actions don't suddenly appear. Your daughter will be monitored. You will know what to look for and the meds will be stopped before she acts.

You do need to be comfortable providing her with the medication. I you're not she will pick up on your anxiety which will increase her anxiety and make the meds less effective. Make an appointment to discuss this with the professionals who are recommending it.

Both my daughter as a teen and both of us as adults take ant-anxiety medications. I've taken various ones over 20 or so years and have found them to be effective overall. Some work better than others. My body builds a tolerance causing me to change meds from time to time. I've been on Celexa now for several years and it's still helping.

My daughter thought they didn't help her as a teen. It's true she was still anxious but less so. She was somewhat easier to parent. She came to live with me as special needs 7 yo. She needed much counseling to help her with anxiety. I needed to be in counseling too. Meds is only part of the answer.

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answers from San Diego on

My 14yr old started Zoloft about 7 months ago. I did research on it and talked at length to her psychiatrist about it. It was explained that a SMALL fraction of people had suicidal thoughts when they FIRST started taking it but there were no documented cases of actual suicide due to starting the med.. At first it makes them tired so it's best to take at night and they will probably start her on a low dose and slowly up the dose. It does help with the anxiety and depression and for our family it helps us enjoy being around our daughter again. You did not say that your child is depressed but I found it interesting that I thought that depression means someone is sad and just feeling down where as in kids/teens it makes them annoyed and irritable and often angry. (I know most teens are but depressed teens take it to a different level). In no means is it a cure all but, for us it helps. Only you and your family can decide if it's right for you. If you do decide to try it PLEASE do not allow anyone to make you feel bad for your decision. Nobody know what your child and your family are going through. Sometimes, kids/teens cannot just grow out of it. Also, (At least with us) ongoing therapy for the child and the family is still needed. I wish you hugs and luck as this is a very difficult decision.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Good for you for taking steps to help your daughter. And of course all things natural are better, but they don't work for everyone. Sometimes people who say their x, y, and z condition was fixed by not eating wheat might not have really had x, y, and z condition after all! And by and large, antidepressants are very safe, so please don't let anyone make you feel bad that you are choosing a medical intervention to help your daughter- it's JUST FINE. I'm always more impressed by people who take the difficult road to helping their child because it's the right thing to do. The suicidal side effect is super rare. Just keep your eye on her to notice any changes, but that is really a long shot.

Talk to her doc about what should work best for her, only he or she will be able to help with that. And as others have said, know that it might take a bit to find the right med and/or the right dose. Allow some room for adjustments to get the maximum result. Good luck to you and her!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My niece took anti anxiety meds. They didnt help, plus they had side effects. I reccomend letting your child grow out of their anxiety and going to therapy
Hope i helped:) - dramamamma

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