The risk in antidepressants for children and adolescents
Among Danish general practitioners it is a widespread perception that antidepressants (“happy pills”) is the answer to a wide range of psychological problems. Therefore, more than 400,000 Danes are treated with the medicine. But according to experts, the pills are often not necessary, and in other cases they are directly life-threatening. Lars Vedel Kessing, professor and depression researcher from the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, estimates that 10 percent of patients treated with SSRIs did not need medication as the doctor has made a wrong diagnosis. Without having the benefit of the medication, they still may suffer from all the side effects, which at worst, is an increased risk of suicide.
Doctors do not want to prescribe Antidepressants
The Danish Medicial Association (Foreningen for Praktiserende læger) have for a long time wished that General Practicitioners should be prohibited from prescribing antidepressants to adolescents, as long as there is no overview of the safety and efficacy of the medicine. At the same time, the association emphasizes that it is an area best left to the real specialists. Yet, the Board of Health did not revise its manual for when the medication should be prescribed to young people between 18 and 25 years, and who can prescribe the pills, until the winter 2014. And although the manual has been changed today, it still contains a major loophole, which enables practitioners to prescribe – and they do in fact still prescribe – “happy pills to adolescents under 25 (link to the Health Protection Agency’s new guide). At the same time it has been proved how important it is that patients are kept under strict supervision in the first period of the treatment with antidepressants, as the risk of suicide is particularly high in that phase. Consequently, in 2007 the FDA changed, the wording of the instructions of happy pills, so that all patients should be followed closely in the first few months of treatment. The importance of this is emphasized by another study from Harvard University, showing that the risk of suicide and attempted suicide doubled when the antidepressant are prescribed in high doses. In Danilos cases the dose was doubled after eight days without a follow-up examination.
Peter Gøtzsche, professor and dr. med., is head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, which critically examines information from around the world about the effect of different treatments. He has, for a long time, been an outspoken critic of the Danish practitioner’s hazardous game with antidepressants (“happy pills”), and does not believe that the pills should be approved for children and adolescents up to 25 years as they are dangerous and have very little effect. In an article in Politiken he further writes that the citizens of the country would be better off if the antidepressant medication was removed completely, rather than the extreme usage the medicine has reached today. He also accuse the country’s leading psychiatrists to be blind to the cold facts about the effects of antidepressants and its side effects. Side effects that may cost lives.