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Childhood Depression

Minimizing Antidepressant Risks for Children

In order for parents to weigh the risks of treating their children's depression with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants vs. the risks and lifetime impact of untreated depression and suicidal ideation, they must learn all they can about childhood depression and bipolar disorder. DBSA's website has detailed information in easy-to-understand language.

In an age-appropriate way, teach your children to talk with you about their symptoms. Become familiar with all suicide warning signs and what you can do, regardless of what medication your child is prescribed. Make certain teachers and other caretakers know what behavior they must report to you.

Supervise your child's daily medication routine. If mid-day medications are needed, check with your child's school to review its medication distribution procedures. For older children, emphasize the importance of not stopping medication or changing dosages without first talking to the doctor. Develop a plan to make sure your children take medication as prescribed without sacrificing their independence.

Take any talk of suicide seriously, and get help right away. Make sure your children understand that if their siblings or friends talk about suicide, they should not keep it a secret.
Learn everything you can about all treatments and medications for childhood depression so you can have an educated discussion with your child's physician. If you have any concerns about SSRIs and children, write them down and do not leave the doctor's office until you get the answers you need. Consider talk therapy and peer support for your child.

Research has shown that people who have eating disorders are at higher risk of suicide than people who talk about suicide. Eating disorders are most prevalent among young women. If your child is diagnosed with depression and has an eating disorder be sure to discuss this with his/her physician and have an age-appropriate conversation with your child.

Connect with the Parent Online Support Community for support on families raising children with mood disorders.

Back to SSRIs and Children.