Hyderabad: A steady increase in the use of anti-depressants in children and adolescents in the last one decade has been noted by city psychiatrists, who state that there is a need for caution as it is being taken beyond the prescribed time.
The abuse of venlafexine or ‘baby ecstasy’ has been noted by clinicians and in several studies where the abuse was found to be 10 to 15 times more than the normal dose. Other anti-depressant drugs like bupropion and modafil have also been found in the list of abused drugs.
Alarm bells are ringing not only in India but also worldwide where a review of paediatric usage of these drugs is being demanded.
Withdrawal from anti-depressant drugs is one of the major reasons for violence in children and adolescents, as observed by a recent study in the Journal of Medical Psychology.
Dr Minhaj Nasirabadi, secretary of the Hyderabad Psychiatric Society, said, “Yes, there is an increase in the prescription of anti-depressants as there are children and adolescents seeking help when they are being pushed to the brink by stress, competitive environment, peer pressure or other problems. It is important to educate the parents and the child that these are only time-bound medicines and can be taken only during a depressive episode and only with consultation of a psychiatrist.”
Experts state that some of these medications can have strong withdrawal effects that range from restlessness to extreme agitation.
Dr I. Bharath Kumar Reddy, senior consultant psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals, said, “Parents are often adamant that they want only medications to treat the child for mental issues. They are not willing to opt for therapy as it is time consuming and requires modifications from their end. When a doctor stops prescribing medicines all that they do is change the doctor and that leads to higher doses of medication. These children are often lethargic and sleepy and also scared of their own emotions as they do not know which doctor they may have to face for their emotional display.”