Children in the UK are increasingly prescribed antidepressants,
even though the drugs are not licensed for under 18s.
A study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood shows
that, of nine countries analysed, including France and Spain, the
UK has the highest increase in prescriptions issued – a 68 per cent
rise between 2000 and 2002.
Germany’s rise was lowest at 13 per cent, the research into the
global rise in antidepressants and other drugs finds.
The authors said little research had been done on the safety and
effectiveness of psychotropic drugs in children, and said their use
was a global public health issue.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane,
said: “There are far too few professionals able to provide
psychological therapy or specialists in child and adolescent mental
Long waiting lists are leaving severely depressed young people at
risk, she said. More research was needed into the effects of
medication on the developing brain so that safer medical treatments
could be offered, she added.