Suzy-Cohen-1Antidepressants Require Close Monitoring

Dear Pharmacist,

My 16-year-old daughter has been taking an antidepressant drug

for depression for 10 months. She was doing better and enjoying

life but in the past few weeks her sadness has set back in. She

isolates herself and I hear her crying all the time. She’s irritable

and refuses to participate in family activities. Her doctor wants

to increase her drug dosage again. Do you think this will help?

K.T., Sacramento, California

ANSWER: It’s hard to say; this might work for a short time. Generally

speaking, however, the higher the dosage, the greater her risk for

side effects such as insomnia, headache, dizziness, low appetite and

confusion. I’m not a psychiatrist, but it’s clear that the doctor thinks

your daughter is slipping backward, so he’s prescribing a higher

dosage again. This may very well be the case, but I have to warn

you that this change in your daughter’s behavior could be due to her

medication, not a relapse into depression.

I say that because antidepressants have been linked to

suicidal thoughts (and yes, suicide!) in children and teens, although

it’s unusual. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that

antidepressant drugs carry a special ‘black box’ warning about the

danger. Some of the signs and symptoms to watch out for include

worsening depression, anger and thoughts or talk of suicide.

I offer natural ways to ease depression, as well as safety

tips if you take prescribed antidepressants in Chapter 5 of my book,

The 24-Hour Pharmacist. As a caring mom, you need to ask your

daughter whether or not she’s experimenting with other drugs

like alcohol or cocaine – another reason for emotional disorders.

Combining these substances with antidepressants is extremely

dangerous. Learn more about her lifestyle (could she be pregnant?)

and also talk to her doctor(s). Finally, consider the following safe

and natural remedies to take with her medication: essential fatty

acids, magnesium chelate, B-complex, vitamin C, Panax ginseng

and green tea