Psychiatric experts in the United Kingdom are at odds over whether teens should be prescribed antidepressants.
At a global health conference in Aberdeen, Scotland, Prof. David Healy, an expert in psychiatric medication, raised questions about whether antidepressant medications may be doing more harm than good in teenagers. Antidepressants can increase suicidal thoughts and actions in young people, and some carry warnings about this effect. But current guidelines for prescribing antidepressants are evidence-based, according to the Royal College of Physicians, which maintains that the drugs are an important treatment option for teens with depression. The recommendations include fluoxetine (Prozac) after three months of unsuccessful psychological therapy. BBC Scotland reports that the number of adolescents in Scotland under age 18 who were prescribed antidepressants doubled from 2009-2010 to 2016, to 5,572.
According to Prof. Healy, several clinical trials examining the use of antidepressants in children and adolescents have demonstrated no obvious benefit – a finding refuted by other mental health professionals, including Dr. Jane Morris from the from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a consultant psychiatrist at Aberdeen's Royal Cornhill Hospital.