Parents Think Too Many Teens Get Antidepressants

But poll finds many are concerned about depression among adolescents

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FRIDAY, June 4, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- While many parents are concerned about depression among teenagers, a number of them are apprehensive about antidepressants, says a new poll from Columbia University.

The poll of 512 parents with children under 18 found that:

  • Sixty-eight percent of the parents believe that antidepressants are being over-prescribed to young people.
  • Thirty-one percent believe that antidepressants harm teens while an equal number don't believe that antidepressants cause harm. Another 38 percent aren't sure.
  • Suicide, weight gain or loss, and brain development are among the potential side effects cited by parents who believe that antidepressants are harmful to teens.
  • Most of the parents believe that most teens suffering from depression aren't receiving treatment.
  • More than half the parents believe that many teens being treated for depression do not have the disorder.

"Parents are worried that many teens with depression aren't getting treated and many teens without depression are," Laurie Flynn, director of the university's Carmel Hill Center for Early Diagnosis and Treatment, said in a prepared statement.

"What's more troubling is parents lack basic information on depression and medication and they don't know where to turn. This poll is a wake-up call to physicians, educators, researchers and even the media to step up efforts to sort out the confusion," Flynn said.

One in five youths will have one or more episodes of major depression by the time they reach adulthood, the researchers added.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about teen depression.

SOURCE: Columbia University, news release, June 2004

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