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By William Dudley

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47 Antidepressants “ No radical biological shift occurs on an adolescent’s eighteenth birthday that makes him suddenly an adult psychologically. Treatment decisions for some 17- and 16-year-olds may be the same as those for adults. ” —Francis Mark Mondimore, Adolescent Depression. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. Mondimore is a practicing psychiatrist and member of the clinical faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “ I’ve got 200 kids on an antidepressant right now, and if people took them away, I’d have parents up in arms, rioting in the streets.

T he number of people taking antidepressant drugs increased greatly in the 1980s and 1990s when the SSRI antidepressants were introduced. 3 million in 1997—and the proportion of patients using antidepressants doubled from 37 percent to 75 percent. In addition, many people not clinically depressed were prescribed antidepressants for other problems or for simply feeling anxious or sad. By 2005, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, antidepressants were the most prescribed class of medication in the United States.

Most antidepressants are believed to work by affecting the patient’s levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. • Thirty percent of depressed patients do not respond to the first antidepressant they try. • About 65 percent of people who do not respond to or are not helped by one type of antidepressant do respond to another. Facts and Illustrations • It is recommended that people helped by antidepressants should continue taking them at least six months after their depression recedes. • According to a 2000 investigation by the Indianapolis Star newspaper, Eli Lilly paid more than $50 million to quietly settle more than 30 lawsuits alleging that Prozac created suicidal or violent behavior.

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Antidepressants by William Dudley


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