New research published in the medical journal The Lancet has found that, well, antidepressants on children and adolescents don’t really work. Out of 14 different antidepressants, only one was really effective at relieving symptoms of depression.
The pill fluoxetine was the only pill that worked in comparison to a placebo pill. On the contrast, taking venlafaxine, also known as Effexor, was associated with more suicidal thoughts and actual attempts when in comparison to the placebo pill.
The researchers claim the study is the most comprehensive to date on this topic. Depressive disorder is becoming more common in children and adolescents, estimating about 3% of children age 6 to 12 and 6% of teenagers aged 13 to 18 have some sort of depression.
In 2014 alone, an estimated 2.8 million teenagers age 12 to 17, which is about 11% of the population of the US, had at least one major depressive episode. Researchers know that depression and young people is usually very different than depression in adults.
Adolescents have shown to be more irritable, have aggressive behavior and develop problems in school. Suicide attempts with younger people can be much more dramatic and leave a more prominent impact on their social functioning.
The final results show that fluoxetine was really the only antidepressant where the benefits outweigh the risks. Most of the other concoction of pills creates a higher risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts.
So what’s the real issue here?
It is definitely not that the pills aren’t working, but that young people need to take antidepressants in the first place. If children 6 to 12 are feeling depressed enough where they need to take some kind of pharmaceutical drug, that is a clear indication that the design of our society is failing.
Children are inherently sensitive, compassionate and insightful. It makes sense that a six-year-old who looks at the state of our world, sees all the suffering and trauma that takes place and feels depressed. Literally depressed, to push down on.
They are feeling the weight of the world and we are numbing their sensitivity with pharmaceuticals. There’s a fundamental misunderstanding we are having in this world where when people show extreme emotion, we think that is supposed to be numbed or tamed.
In a reality where we understand the intimate connection between all of us, the symptoms of depression wouldn’t exist on a global scale. If you were in a constantly supportive environment which allowed you to thrive, any symptoms of depression would subside.
Depression is a literally the weight of the world on top of us. Everything is connected, from a personal experience that triggers trauma and depression, to a global scale that affects everyone.
The real way to getting to the core of depression is not through pharmaceuticals. It’s through old fashion communication and connection which ultimately makes all of us stronger and united.