Antidepressants and Teens

The life of a teenager is riddled with all sorts of pressures. It is a formative period of one’s life where learning oneself can be a bumpy and uncomfortable road.depressed teen

Furthermore, it is not uncommon that teenagers experience periods of depression, extreme anxiety and emotions that are difficult to process. When a teenager exhibits behavior that may point to clinical depression and/ or situational depression it can be beneficial to obtain the guidance of a mental health professional. 

Are Antidepressants Addictive?

There are different types of antidepressant medications. Antidepressants do not have addictive characteristics like that of other substances, such as alcohol, for example. Some antidepressants do have some addictive qualities more than others. It is possible for people to develop a physical dependency to antidepressants. This could occur in individuals who may have not needed the use antidepressants in the first place. Any mental health professional that prescribes antidepressants should have a deep understanding of a teen’s health history, including the presence of addiction in one’s family. This will enable a proper treatment plan, minimizing the possible negative side effects.

Side Effects

Antidepressants are used to help rebalance the imbalanced chemicals in one’s brain that cause depression or other mental health disorders. There are several side effects that may present when taking antidepressants. Some examples of side effects are as follows:

  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

When taken properly and under the direct supervision of a mental health professional, many of the unpleasant side effects will subside in time. It is essential to be transparent with the prescribing professional regarding the presence of side effects. This will allow the mental health professional insight as to whether or not the prescribed treatment plan is working, or if an adjustment in one’s treatment plan is necessary. 

Who Should Use Them And When

Antidepressants are medications prescribed to help treat moderate to severe depression. The two most common types of antidepressant medications are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). SSRIs work by altering the brain’s chemical balance of serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical in one’s body that is directly related to one’s moods. SNRIs work to elevate one’s mood by interacting with both the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in one’s brain. Antidepressant medications are used as treatments for depression, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) as well as GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). It is important to note that antidepressants are not a quick fix to mental health disorders. 

When working with a teenager it is always best to have a team approach in regards to a mental health treatment plan, with or without medication. This can include, but is not limited to exposure to various forms of therapeutic modalities as well as implementing consistent self-care methods. Prescribing antidepressant medications is not always the best method of treatment. Every teenager is different and will benefit from a specialized and personalized treatment plan when it comes to mental health. The decision as to whether or not antidepressants may behoove a young person is best left to properly trained medical and mental health professionals. 

For Information and Support 

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

References

Calderone J (2014). “The Rise of All-Purpose Antidepressants.” Scientific American. Retrieved on October 21, 2019 from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-rise-of-all-purpose-antidepressants/

Evans, EA et al. Substance Abuse Rehabilitation. (2014). Abuse and Misuse of Antidepressants. Retrieved on October 21, 2019 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25187753

National Institute of Mental Health, “Major Depression Among Adolescents,” retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adolescents.shtml.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Antidepressant Use in Children, Adolescents, and Adults,” retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm096273.ht.