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Risks of Antidepressant Medications for Suicidal Teenagers

An alarming truth: thousands of teenagers, both girls and boys, are at risk for suicide. Though many do not recognize suicide as a serious threat to a teenager's well-being, teen suicide is now considered a major cause of death among American teenagers. According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), about 8 of every 100,000 teenagers committed suicide in 2000. Experts estimate that for every teen suicide death, there are at least 10 other teen suicide attempts. They also found out that almost 1 in 5 teens had thoughts about suicide. About 1 in 6 teens made plans on committing suicide and more that 1 in 12 teens had attempted suicide in the last year.

As many as 8 out of 10 teens who commit suicide try to ask for help in some way before committing suicide, such as by seeing a doctor shortly before the suicide attempt. It is said that depression causes most teenage suicides in the United States. It is depression that leads people to focus mostly on failures and disappointments; emphasize the negative side of their situations; and downplay their own capabilities or sense of self-worth. Depression or depressive disorders (unipolar depression) are mental illnesses characterized by a profound and persistent feeling of sadness or despair. Depressed persons are not interested anymore in things that were once pleasurable.

Difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite, significant weight loss, and difficulty in making decisions are common signs of depression. A teen with depression may feel like there’s no other way out of problems, no other escape from emotional pain, or no other way to communicate their desperate sadness. For that reason, many teens who think of or actually attempt to commit suicide feel like it is the only way to get their message across. To address cases of suicide attempts and other depressive disorders, the medical community has resorted to the prescription of antidepressant medications. With the help of these medications, most people can achieve significant recovery from depression.at least, that is what these drugs are supposed to do. However, according to recent research, certain widely used antidepressant medications may double the risk of suicidal behavior among teenagers. The research also marked the first time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged that these drugs can trigger suicidal behavior among patients older than 18. The finding comes two years after the FDA ordered a “black box” warning on antidepressant medications following the discovery of a heightened risk of suicidal behavior among teenagers taking the pills.

Depression is so powerful especially to these young individuals who find it difficult to cope with the many ins and outs of being a teenager. For teens who have additional problems to deal with such as living in a violent or abusive environment, a breakup, a big fight with a parent, or an unintended pregnancy --- life can be overwhelmingly difficult. Further, teenagers who feel suicidal may not even realize they are depressed. They are unaware that it is depression and that their situation has made them see or believe that “there’s no way out.” Counselors and therapists can provide emotional support and can help teens build their own coping skills for dealing with problems. While there are many cases where teenagers and adults actually need a prescription for antidepressant medications, these situations must be thoroughly examined by a doctor or health professional. Only qualified medical or health practitioners should decide whether a a certain patient needs medication or not. Constant communication, guidance and abundant love from the immediate family is of major importance in dealing with a teenager's suicide thoughts. It can also help to join a support network for people who are going through the same problems. When depression lifts because a teenager gets the proper therapy or treatment, the distorted thinking is cleared.

In time, the teenager can find pleasure, energy, and hope again.


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