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Monday 28th May 2018

Seroxat still used for children

16th March 2006

16032006_sad_face.jpgBanned antidepressants are being handed out to thousands of children by doctors because they face waits of up to 10 months to see a psychiatrist. According to a survey carried out by the medical magazine Pulse, children and adolescents face huge problems in getting treatment for depression.

A survey of 1,300 general practitioners has found that the crisis in mental health services for children is so bad that they have little alternative but to put youngsters on antidespressants, including Seroxat and other SSRIs. Latest official figures show that almost 7,000 prescriptions for Seroxat and 10,000 for other SSRIs were issued to under-18s in 2004-5. An increasing number of children are on Prozac.
The antidepressant Seroxat and similar drugs, SSRIs, were restricted for children's use in 2003 after an investigation revealed that they could cause mood swings and increase the risk of suicide in under-18s. Only one drug, Prozac, was deemed by the Medicines and Health care Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) to be safe to give to children, but only as a last resort.

However, four out of five GPs say they are unable to meet guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, which recommends advice on diet and exercise and counselling as a first line of treatment for mild to moderate depression. More than half, 58 per cent, are instead handing out antidepressants to fill the gap left by the NHS services.

Under-18s typically have to wait eight months for assessment by their local child and adolescent mental health services team and 10 months to see a child psychiatrist. Sophie Corlett, the policy director at mental health charity Mind, said that a child in crisis should not be waiting 10 months for access to a psychiatrist. She urged the Government to commit more money to these services.

The Department of Health said that £300 million had been invested in children's mental health services in the past three years.








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