Warning over child use of anti-depressants in UAE

DUBAI // Researchers have warned against the use of some anti-depressants that could pose an increased suicide risk for children and adolescents. A study published in the British Medical Journal has concluded children and teenagers using one of five commonly used drugs to treat depression have double the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviour. According […]

DUBAI // Researchers have warned against the use of some anti-depressants that could pose an increased suicide risk for children and adolescents.

A study published in the British Medical Journal has concluded children and teenagers using one of five commonly used drugs to treat depression have double the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviour.

According to child psychiatrists in Dubai, therapy should be trialled first before administering medication as a last resort.

While a link was found among young people, no link was found in adults who had taken duloxetine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline or venlafaxine.

Two of the drugs listed – fluoxetine and sertraline – are commonly used in the UAE and can help young people whose condition has not improved through cognitive behavioural therapy, or similar treatments.

Dr Amber Sadiq, a lead consultant psychiatrist at the Camali Clinic in Dubai, said young people need care tailored for them.

“I would always recommend a child is seen by a specialist mental health service, not by an adult mental health specialist,” she said.

“It is about ensuring the care is joined up and collaborative. It is better for children to get all of this care in one place.

“We know there is an increased risk in self harm and suicidal thinking in children. If a parent has concerns, they should speak with someone who has the expertise to assess, diagnose and treat their child.”

Children diagnosed with depression are at an increased risk in the first four to six weeks, so it is critical they are given all the information about how the drugs work and their side effects.

Dr Sadiq added: “Anti-depressants can be effective and save lives of kids who are not responding to therapy. If they are correctly prescribed, they can be extremely beneficial.

“It depends on the doctor and where they have trained but the medication prescribed here is generally the same as elsewhere.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that one in five children in the world experience significant mental health or emotional issues, with half of mental disorders in adulthood beginning before the age of 14.

Dr Haneen Jarrar, a child psychologist at the Camali Clinic, said: “Anxiety in children and adolescents is one of the most prominent mental health issues we see. Parents feel it is normal that children are feeling anxious, so it is not reported, but it can be debilitating.”

The Camali Clinic has launched a School Readiness programme, which aims to bridge the gap between home schooling and mainstream schools for children with special needs.

Dr Jarrar added: “More healthcare facilities and supporting programmes such as our School Readiness programme should be considered.”

nwebster@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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