Reported in the BBC news headlines this morning is the fact that antidepressant use, based on a doctor’s prescription is increasing dramatically in school children. The UK has seen the fastest rise in the prescribing of antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs to children, a new study of nine countries shows. In total, there were 950,000 prescriptions issued between April 2015 and March 2018.
Statistics in the UK alone based on a study using freedom of information requests, focused especially to the use of a group of antidepressants known as Serotonin Reuptake inhibitors or SSRI’s. The study shows that between 2005 and 2012 there was a 54% increase in the number of young people prescribed these drugs in the UK. The steepest increase was seen in the youngest patients, those aged 12 and under, where the number of prescriptions rose on average by 24%, from 14,500 to almost 18,000. The study also showed rises in Denmark (60%), Germany (49%), the US (26%) and the Netherlands (17%) in the same period.
An older study carried out by the University of London researchers compared prescribing rates between 2000 and 2002 in countries in Europe, South America and North America. During that period, the UK saw a 68% rise in children being prescribed drugs to stimulate or calm the brain. Many of the prescriptions were for medications used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
The World Health Organization (WHO) director of mental health Dr Shekhar
Saxena said the research, published in the European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, raises serious questions.
"Anti-depressant use amongst young people is and has been a matter of concern because of two reasons,"
"One, are more people being prescribed anti-depressants without sufficient reason? And secondly, can anti-depressants do any major harm?"
Considering Dr Saxena’s second question, I ask the question “What has changed in the last 10 years to see such an increase in mental health that requires a pharmaceutical solution in brains that are not fully developed?” Common side effects other than the addictive nature of these drugs are nausea, indigestion, insomnia, and or loose stools and diarrhoea. What is the impact on other bodily organs, including the liver, the kidneys and the gut from taking such medication? Surely these side effects indicate negative impact on the whole body? What damage is being done to the vital organs through taking this medication at such an early age?
Nature has its very own antidepressant herbs such as Lavender, Wild Oat and Vervain all of which will address the main issue of depression without any side effects.
Coming back to what has changed for children and adolescents? Has anything really changed to cause such need for antidepressants, or is it simply that we are all overly busy and quality time with young people to discuss and advise on life’s issues is compromised, along with very often a nutrient deficient diet, due to food processing, intensive farming methods and the high percentage of additives and sugar, found in foods. Combined with the lack of fresh air and exercise, as well as the advent of social media, which it appears inadvertently increased competitiveness amongst young people on the level of how much am I “liked” versus performance on the sports field?
Is it not time that we all started to look at the whole picture and not just the parts that appear to be malfunctioning, only to throw more money at a solution that is not even close to addressing the real problem?