Will pills cure your teen's anxiety? What to know before putting your child on anxiety drugs

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  • Gavidaae Madison, IN
    Nov. 13, 2018 6:47 a.m.

    Or, we could teach our kids how to do hard things. Spoken as a mom who has experienced clinical depression and anxiety and has a child who has those tendencies too. He finished his mission and is graduating from college and going to graduate school. Things are hard, you push through. That's life. Not sure what we did to this generation to create this wave of young adults that can't seem to handle anything, including differing political opinions. Sheesh.

  • Judgefree Saratoga Springs, UT
    Aug. 22, 2018 3:20 p.m.

    Let’s just say about 6 years ago I was that person who thought “anti depressants “ where a conspiracy for Pharmaceutical companies to rip people off. I thought people should suck it up and go to counseling when needed. That was all before I had my first panic attack that turned into severe anxiety where I couldn’t even care for my family. I tried everything because I hated anti depressants and was not going to be that “one” that took medication. Nothing worked. I quit a great job, stop talking to friends, and yes even contemplated suicide. At that point I was so broken I would do anything. So I went to my doctor. I got the prescription and within about 4 months of my body getting used to it, it changed my life. I can be a Mom to my beautiful 6 children, and live my life fully. Do not judge if you have never been there. It is life debilitating and medicine IS necessary for some, not all, but definitely some. Anxiety is a true illness. I believe in trying other natural methods first. But if they do not succeed, holding back medical help for the ones you love, especially our children, could be fatal. Please be loving and non judgmental to those that are suffering.

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 12, 2018 9:43 a.m.

    Most people are not running to their doctors for feeling blue or overly stressed for a few days. Believe it or not, most people don't want to be on medications.

    It is often after trying diet, waiting it out, therapy, exercise etc and perhaps years of grinning and bearing it that a lot of people try meds.

    A mental disorder such as severe anxiety or depression can cause isolation, dropping out from school, fear of driving, difficulty finding and keeping jobs, trouble focusing, trouble sleeping, just a lot of miser and no fun.

    Not everyone needs to try or should be on meds and not everyone has that miracle response, but if there is help, why suffer and why judge others so harshly who are suffering.

    Two of my sister in laws argued on who was the expert on acne. One felt she was right because she had quite severe acne, the other was sure she knew everything because she never had to deal with acne.

    When people who have never had severe anxiety or depression tell people who have dealt with chronic depression and anxiety all they need is a new diet and fresh air and exercise, it typically frustrates them. It just shows they have no clue, because most often they already tried....

  • Lehi-Mom Lehi, UT
    Aug. 7, 2018 7:03 a.m.

    This is in response to *Loaf*, in Boise, ID.

    I once believed that mental disorders were caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, too. I believed it because that's what our family doctor told me in explaining the cause of mental disorders.

    But, it's not true. I discovered the truth only after reading through the scientific literature myself.

    A really good article you might want to read is

    "Serotonin and depression: A disconnect between the advertisements and the scientific literature," published in PLoS Medicine.

    This delivered a decisive blow to psychiatry's unubstantiated claim about a "chemical imbalance" in the brain of people who suffer from depression --or other psychological and emotional ailments.

    I guess I'm not allowed to include the actual URL for this article, but you can just Google the title of the article, and it will come up for you.

  • Lehi-Mom Lehi, UT
    Aug. 7, 2018 6:41 a.m.

    This is such an important topic, and I think we need to be non-judgemental in listening to and validating the wide spectrum of personal viewpoints and experiences.

    *Gee-en* stated his/her viewpoint that "SSRIs & other prescriptions are miracle drugs".
    That viewpoint does not invalidate the opinion of another commentator, *hopeforone*, who shared his/her experience and advises "teens and young adults should never take them".

    I believe antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are over-prescribed. The risks are real and should not be negated. For that reason, I do not advocate the use of any psychiatric drug for the treatment of anxiety or depression. But, my personal viewpoint should not be seen as a threat to someone who has found relief from a drug when nothing else has worked for them.

    I hope the Deseret News will encourage a broader conversation that will ultimately validate both divergent points of views. I would like to see a public forum that addresses the many non-drug solutions that have been proven effective for not only treating, but preventing depression and anxiety. Effective remedies with no risk of negative side effects...

    They do exist!

  • lovinlife13 North Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 6, 2018 4:54 p.m.

    Great Article! I was really surprised by all the negative comments. Clearly, many of the commenters have never had to physically move their daughter out from behind the steering wheel because she is suffering a panic attack so severe that she can't speak, can barely see, and can't walk. But I have. My daughter is 23. She is a confident, intelligent, caring girl. She graduated high school and college with honors, made friends, and landed a great job. But she also has severe anxiety. In six months time, that anxiety debillitated her to where she no longer works, and some days, can barely get dressed. Her only saving grace has been medication and an amazing therapist. She was not over pressured by parents. She didn't take the decision to go on meds lightly. She works hard every single day to succeed a little more. Someday, she will finder her light on her journey through anxiety. But for now, she relies on my love and support, her therapist, and her doctor to keep her safe and healthy. Anyone who says anxiety is a myth, drugs are a crutch, or kids are making up, can come see my daughter on her bad days. You'll leave feeling more helpless than you thought possible.

  • Yorkshire Logan, UT
    Aug. 6, 2018 9:05 a.m.

    Most have anxiety because it's being CAUSED by something or many somethings.

    Wouldn't it be smarter to first try reducing or eliminating those things before worrying about medication??

    I know a few teens who, when their parents let up on demanding intelligence and abilities their kids just didn't possess--and stopped demanding perfection, and let these kids just be themselves instead of trying to compell them to be what other friends or family members might be, those teens anxiety levels dropped and they were much happier.

    Not all kids have the ability to be what parents want them to be, or what society and social pressure puts demands on them to be.

    Realizing and admitting that is hard-- but when you value your child's happiness and sanity over requiring them to fit some social success Facebook-bragging mold, you will find anxiety lowers.

    Have seen it.

  • SteedGun Centerville, UT
    Aug. 5, 2018 3:18 p.m.

    If your doctor is talking any kind of medication you need to slow down and get a lot of other medical opinions. My entire life was affected because my mom thought my sister needed some medical help and that did not work well at all. I am 62 now and I can tell you that drugs are one of the last alternatives I would try. I also do not have a very high regard for therapists. I have lived the nightmare so learn from my life. I have seen big messes in my family and my partners kids from drugs to help with mood and depression. Tread with extreme caution.

  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    Aug. 5, 2018 4:34 a.m.

    these types of drugs can affect teens much differently than adults. chose your doctor (pediatrician) carefully.

  • loaf Boise, ID
    Aug. 4, 2018 12:51 a.m.

    hopeforone & mainlyme- I'm curious to know where your *proof* is that brain chemical imbalance *is a myth* or that meds make things worse? While brain scans/ MRI's may not show exact chemical imbalances, they *do* show damaged/abnormal areas of people's brains that have anxiety/depression when compared with the norm.

    If not brain chemical imbalance, abnormalities or genetics, what causes it? Depression/anxiety has been proven by medical studies to have about a 50% genetic basis. (depressiongenetics.stanford.edu) It is a real problem *in the brain*. A physical organ of the body.

    I have proof from my life that antidepressant medication does help me & others. There's no way the placebo effect could help me out of that hellish pit that depression/anxiety is. Pills don't magically solve things -you should be careful- but I don't think you should feel ashamed to take them. I get that meds weren't for you. But you have no right to say that others shouldn't take them or "NEVER long term". Correctly taking prescription meds is better than suicide!

    Other solutions mentioned- therapy, exercise, healthy food, omega 3s, also help!!
    Thanks gee-un & c. scientist- you hit the nail on the head.

  • loaf Boise, ID
    Aug. 3, 2018 10:53 p.m.

    Guns n Roses- So if all children get fresh air and work hard there will be no mental illness in the world? I agree that hard work and fresh air are very beneficial/important and our media-saturated society needs more of it. But I don't think it can cure *everything*. Especially if genetics are involved. But research says it definitely helps!

    Mighty Mite- Seriously? So are you saying that only children with "lousy" parents get anxiety? Are you a perfect parent of children with no challenges? Please be careful not to judge, unless you've experienced it. I think non sense is believing that good parenting cures *everything*. Of course it's extremely important, and it makes a huge difference, but it doesn't make problems just disappear.

    Mainly Me- Yes. Pharma companies are probably mostly corrupt and greedy. I'm sure there are some good people in pharmaceuticals that truly want to help others, but I'm also sure there are many that don't and just want to line their pockets, regardless. There are out of control addictions to drugs in our country and drugs are definitely not the answer to all problems! But that doesn't mean medication doesn't make a meaningful difference for some!

  • Mainly Me Werribee, 00
    Aug. 3, 2018 3:59 p.m.


    "'Chemical Imbalance' for depression and anxiety is a myth, it's not true. Drug companies came up with it to sell pills."

    Wow! Someone who gets it. What the doctor won't tell you is that there are no, none, nadda, zip, nil, zero, absolutely not one single test that proves a "chemical imbalance" exists. There are no blood tests or urinalysis that can measure the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain nor establish a baseline for that balance. It is all based on a theory. The chemical imbalance occurs after you begin taking those mind altering chemicals.

  • gee-en Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 11:59 a.m.

    Sorry, but from my vantage point some of the SSRIs and other prescriptions are absolute miracle drugs.
    Some people in my life have been absolutely debilitated by depression, anxiety or even both. It's hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it how depression makes it so you can't move, can't eat, don't care if you die or not.
    Similarly with anxiety...your body just shakes uncontrollably for no reason as adrenaline is pumped in uncontrollable quantities because your body is reacting as if you were in the middle of being eaten alive by a shark. Try to imagine sleeping or working or even thinking clearly and rationally while your body is reacting the same as if you were being eaten alive by a shark.
    Sorry folks, sometimes one absolutely has to use modern miracles such as pharmaceuticals just to be able to function.
    Are they perfect? No
    Are they 100% effective? No
    But the alternatives are often much, much worse.

  • conservative scientist Lindon, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 10:50 a.m.

    This is a very good article. Thanks for publishing it. There are many reasons why teens (and children and adults) can feel anxious (and/or depressed). Some of them are things that we can alleviate to some extent with better habits and choices, or that parenting can help with, but some of it really appears to be physiological and genetic. For many people, therapy, medications, and other treatments mentioned can be liberating and life-changing in a positive way.

    For those who don't suffer with such things either yourself or in your close family, please don't judge others who do. For those interested in recent LDS teaching on this subject, please read Elder Holland's talk from October 2013 General Conference "Like a Broken Vessel" which gives very wise counsel and insight on this subject. It is important that we break down social stigmas related to mental and emotional illness rather than perpetuate unhelpful and untrue ideas.

  • hopeforone West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 10:50 a.m.

    Loaf says . "So why do we so doggedly question taking medication to help the brain function properly"?

    I'll tell you why. "Chemical Imbalance" for depression and anxiety is a myth, it's not true. Drug companies came up with it to sell pills.
    I took those pills for eight years, never once were my brain levels tested. In fact, no one's is.
    Plus, we know that if you stop taking those pills, the amount of serotonin (or dopamine) actually becomes LESS than before you even started taking them, making the patient even worse off.

  • hopeforone West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 10:43 a.m.

    Anxiety and Depression prescriptions are up 300% in The US since the 80's. So we must be less depressed and anxious right? No. At the very least, these pills do nothing. Unfortunately, the truth is even worse, they make you have MORE issues in the long run. Just like any pill, your body develops a tolerance and your bodies natural ability to fight anxiety and depression becomes compromised (tardive disphoria). I took them for eight years. What the doctors don't tell you is there are BRUTALLY hard to get off of, I had terrible withdrawal symptoms for years (yes years) To parents: Do not, ever, let your teenager or young adult take them...ever. And adults should rarely take them and NEVER long term.

  • THEREALND Mishawaka, IN
    Aug. 3, 2018 9:19 a.m.

    I think we need a "Parent Whisperer" to train parents and rehabilitate their children.

    We are living in a world where many parents think that their children have to be the best at whatever they do, and if they aren't, well it's because they didn't try hard enough.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Aug. 3, 2018 8:08 a.m.

    I did not read the entire article, but in skimming it, I saw nothing about diet. I had acute anxiety for several months as an adult in my 40s. I felt inspired to see a D.O. He gave me B12 injections just to help me feel better as we sorted through my symptoms and what possibly led up to them. He later recommended a drastically changed diet. I eliminated all added sugar, avoided fruit, pasta, potatoes and some meats. I focused on lean meats, quantities of green vegetables and other vegetables and only ate whole grain bread made with minimal yeast. Within a week, the anxiety began subsiding. I had a lot of other symptoms (extreme thirst, insomnia, aches) and they also diminished. I am still careful about eating, particularly avoiding sugar.

    Supplements can also be very helpful. There are clinics that do extensive evaluation of various mental illnesses and recommend appropriate formulas. I am not saying that medications should be avoided, but parents and patients should consider other alternatives.

  • gdanger Layton, Utah
    Aug. 3, 2018 7:16 a.m.

    Medical Marijuana can be a much more effective and safer option, then just Pharma Drugs....

  • loaf Boise, ID
    Aug. 3, 2018 5:03 a.m.

    I think it's important to recognize that anxiety & depression (or any mental illness) have a *physical basis* in the brain. If you have asthma, you use an inhaler to compensate. If your pancreas isn't working, you take insulin. No one questions that. So why do we so doggedly question taking medication to help the brain function properly?

    When the brain doesn't produce chemicals in the right amounts, you may feel horrible for no apparent reason. I also believe, (from research-based books), that what & how we think about things, does have a real effect on the chemicals in our brain. So therapy helps as well.

    I've taken medication for years, for major depression & anxiety. When I was in high school, I had no idea why I felt so terrible all the time. When I finally got treatment, years later, with antidepressants, I felt so much better. It didn't solve everything, but it helped me function and gave me hope.

    I get that you shouldn't take medication lightly; you need to educate yourself & only take what's needed. I also realize medication may not be for everyone if other treatment may work better. I just think you shouldn't automatically dismiss it, when it can possibly help!

  • Mainly Me Werribee, 00
    Aug. 3, 2018 12:11 a.m.

    A pill for every ill; that's the motto of big pharma. Drugs, drugs, and more drugs.

  • mightymite , 00
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:54 p.m.

    Stop the nonsense. Be parents... end of story!

  • Guns_n_Roses Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:16 p.m.

    Fresh air and hard work from a young age