Home' Parents Guide : A parents guide to anxiety and depression in young Contents GET SUPPORT
WHEN SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
SUPPORT FROM HEALTH
USEFUL LINKS AND CONTACTS
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
SUPPORTING A YOUNG PERSON
LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF
AND YOUR FAMILY
WHY DO PEOPLE DEVELOP
ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION?
taking them suddenly, as this may cause an unpleasant withdrawal reaction and make
you feel worse. Symptoms include unpleasant mood states, irritability, agitation,
If the depression is moderate to severe, or other forms of treatment are not working, dizziness and confusion, which generally stop by themselves after a week or so.
then the young person’s doctor might consider prescribing antidepressants.
While medication can be of benefit to young people with moderate to severe
There are a number of different antidepressants available however fluoxetine,
depression, research has found that it is best to combine this with psychological
which is a type of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), has been
or ‘talking’ therapy. This can help the young person to improve their coping skills,
the most widely researched in young people. Studies suggest that fluoxetine
better understand their condition and work through any issues or stresses that
helps to reduce depression when it is moderate or severe in young people but
might be adding to the symptoms of the anxiety or depression.
is not recommended in the treatment of mild depression. The decision to use
antidepressants in young people depends on how severe the symptoms are,
Antidepressant medications may also be used to treat some anxiety conditions
and involves ver y carefully weighing up the likely benefits and harm. Use of SSRIs
but again this requires careful consideration by a doctor. Before any medication
in young people should only happen as par t of a complete treatment plan for the
is prescribed, the doctor would talk with the young person about how it works,
side-effects and how they will monitor their medication use.
Like any medication, antidepressants have side-effects and the most common are
nausea, headaches and drowsiness, which are usually mild and short term. There is
also a risk that antidepressants may increase suicidal thoughts and urges, particularly
Just like with any other organ, if it’s not working
in the first four weeks of treatment. Any young person treated with antidepressants properly and there is medication to help it, that’s a great
should therefore be reviewed regularly when starting these medications.
thing. They aren’t addictive, they aren’t ‘happy pills’ and
If a doctor suggests a young person begins on medication they will talk about
I’m not goofy on them, they just help balance out my brain,
these issues in detail before prescribing the medications. They will also review
the young person regularly once the medication has begun to monitor for any side so it’s just like everyone else’s.
Rebecca, 23 years
effects. It is impor tant that the young person does not miss these appointments,
particularly in the first few weeks. Ideally, a parent or responsible adult should
super vise the use of antidepressants by adolescents. Unlike antibiotics, it can take
For some young people with severe anxiety and depression, a short stay in hospital
at least two to four weeks before the young person may begin to feel better. If the
may be required. Hospital care might also be provided where a young person is
depression is not improving, it may be necessar y to adjust the dose or an alternative
experiencing persistent thoughts of suicide and there are concerns about their
medication may need to be considered.
safety. While in hospital, the young person has access to a range of health programs
The reality is ever yone reacts differently to new medication but about one in
and professionals to suppor t their recover y. Many public mental health ser vices
10 people experience side-ef fects that lead them to stop taking the medication.
have specific hospital units for young people. Hospital care is not a long-term
If the young person decides to stop taking antidepressant medication, it’s best to do so
solution. The aim is to stabilise a young person’s condition to enable them to return
slowly, with super vision by their doctor and regular check-ups. It’s impor tant not to stop home. Health professionals will provide ongoing suppor t.
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