News Corp Australia National Health Correspondent, Sue Dunlevy. Picture: Toby Zerna
News Corp Australia National Health Correspondent, Sue Dunlevy. Picture: Toby Zerna

‘Worse than meth’: Harrowing toll of antidepressants on our youth

Comment: The full extent of the harrowing effects of antidepressant medications on young Australians can't be properly conveyed in these articles because of the ongoing trauma and stigma associated with the problem.

In the course of researching this article I spoke to numerous families who in part blame these medications for the loss of their child to suicide but they did not want their stories publicised.

What I learned was that in many cases young children are being placed on these medications as a first line treatment, before any psychological therapy is attempted.

Parents are not warned of the suicide risks and sadly some have actually been bullied by psychiatrists who threaten to make their child a ward of the state if parents object to using the drugs.

I have spoken to many patients who relayed the extreme difficulty they faced weaning themselves off these medications, a process that takes years. They said it left them exposed to suicidal thoughts.

"I met with one doctor who said that paroxetine is harder to get off than meth and just wished me good luck," one young woman put on the drugs at age 15 told me.

 

While researching her story, News Corp’s National Health Correspondent Sue Dunlevy found in many cases young children were being placed on antidepressants as a first line treatment. Picture: Supplied
While researching her story, News Corp’s National Health Correspondent Sue Dunlevy found in many cases young children were being placed on antidepressants as a first line treatment. Picture: Supplied

 

Recent academic studies have uncovered that past medical research into the usefulness of antidepressants is based on faulty data.

In some key studies people who took their own lives while using the drugs were wrongly assigned to the placebo group but the studies were never corrected.

Many of the suicides connected to the drugs will not be reported as adverse events.

Australian medicines watch group NPS Medicinewise reported last week fewer than 5 per cent of adverse events linked to medications are ever reported.

The system is voluntary and doctors, fearing lawsuits, have no incentive to record the problems.

One simple move that could be made to ensure patients and parents are aware of the risks of these drugs would be to introduce prominent suicide warnings on the outside of the packs.
If you need help with a mental health issue contact Lifeline 131114 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.

 

Join our 360 Roundtable Facebook Group for more stories like this.

 

Originally published as 'Worse than meth': Harrowing toll of antidepressants on our youth


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