There has been a massive increase in Irish children being prescribed anti-depressants
According to a new report, there has been a significant increase in Irish children being prescribed anti-depressants over the past decade.
According to an article in today's Sunday Independent, based on figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, 1593 children under the age of 11 has been prescribed this medication between 2010 and 2019. For older children, the numbers are even starker. In the same time period, as many as 4571 children up to the age of 15 have been subscribed an anti-depressant.
Year on year, the numbers of children requiring an anti-depressant has been on a steady – and frightening – rise.
In 2010, only 43 children in Ireland were prescribed this medication. Last year, however, this figure had risen to 358. For the 12-15-year-olds, the numbers make for an even grimmer read. In 2010, 94 12-15-year-olds were given an anti-depressant. Fast forward 10 years, and this figure stood at 1.011. In other words; there has been a ten-fold increase in adolescents needing strong medications to feel better in their everyday lives.
Maybe more concerning is that the biggest jump in numbers – so far – was from 2018 to 2019.
The article also states that these figures do not include this year's, where we already know there has been a massive increase in both children and adults admitting to struggling with their mental health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown.
According to the report in the Sunday Independent, the actual numbers for children needing an anti-depressant are no doubt even bigger – as the stats the got access to only accounted for children whose parents have a medical card or a GP card.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent about the figures, Dr Maeve Doyle, a consultant child- and adolescent psychiatrist, explains that the decision to put children on this type of medication is never taken lightly, and only happen in cases where the children are under serious psychological stress.
"It might come as a shock that children might need pharmacological medication," Dr Doyle explain.
"Some children are so anxious that they are unable to eat. They can have bad physiological manifestations. Their minds are racing. Some of them are not able to go to school or play with their peers."
She explains that for some of these children, there is a need to get them to take medication to even enable them to access talk therapy.
It is procedure, Dr Doyle explains, that children in need in anti-depressants, will be referred to a secondary mental health clinic, called Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). However, as it currently stands, there are more than 2000 children and young adults on waiting lists to be seen by medical professionals nationwide.