‘A generation in crisis’

The following article featured in the Scottish Sunday Mail, 4 December 2022:

The article continues:

The pandemic also had a profound effect on youngsters who were forced to spend almost two years cut off from their friends and wider family.

According to a Freedom of Information response by Public Health Scotland, there has been a steady rise in teens using antidepressants over the past decade.

In 2012 there were 9,970 taking pills such as Citalopram, but this has almost doubled to 17,993.

Some experts warn that handing out drugs that alter brain chemistry might not always be in a young person’s best interests, as the pills do not address the root cause of the depression.

Beverley Thomson. a psychiatric drugs specialist, said: ‘The safety and efficacy of antidepressant use for young people is far from reassuring. There have been disturbing reports alleging drug firms hid unfavourable data, exaggerated the benefits and hid adverse effects, in particular the risk of suicidality.’

There is a chance people on antidepressants will experience mood instability sufficient to attract a label of bipolar disorder. A Yale University study found the risk was particularly pronounced for children and adolescents.

‘In an age where we obsess about protecting our children, why do we pay so little attention to the growing trend of prescribing mind-altering antidepressants to them?’

Ms Thomson added: ‘Why are we allowing young people to believe they are mentally ill and their problems can be solved by popping psychoactive pills? ‘Instead of seeing our children as needing medication, parents need to help children deal with suffering as part of life, part of growing up.

‘Whilst psychiatry says distress and sadness is mental illness, we must teach children that, more often than not, it is just their normal reactions to the difficulties of everyday life.

‘Nothing is more cruel than allowing young people to believe they are mentally ill and their problems can be solved by antidepressants. By encouraging young people to believe they are to blame for their distress and by medicating them with powerful drugs that change brain chemistry, are we taking away their right to survive and their ability to thrive?’

Her views are echoed by Maggie Mellon, a former social worker specialising in childcare. She believes GPs are too quick to prescribe drugs and that taking the time to talk to young people and getting them to exercise is often the best way to help.

She said: ‘Children are online so there is no break from peer pressure. They are in their beck and vulnerable children are never able to log off to relax.

It would be better for children to have walking and exercise groups.

`We have also had years of austerity and a lot of financial pressures on families and then we had Covid.

‘Distressed children are turning up at surgeries and GPs only have five minutes to deal with them. The pressure on the NHS is enormous.’

Included in the article was the experience of Stephanie Craig:

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