Auntie Says...

Teens and Antidepressants: A Possible Lifeline for Survival

I am an Auntie. I am not a doctor and nor am I a therapist or medical expert. This post is strictly my opinion and that is it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on either side of the issue.

I have a true soft spot for young people. Sometimes, they simply need to be heard to feel better and other times there’s something more going on.

When I was a kid, I’m not sure if I knew the word “depression”. Things were different then and mental health had an enormous stigma… Hell, it still does… and therein lies the problem.

Source: Scopio. Artist: Maksim Chernyshev

Kids and Depression

I’m not sure that this topic is taken seriously enough and am happy that many organizations like Bell Canada and the young British Royals are openly talking and encouraging others to learn and discuss issues around it.

Kids don’t even really have the words to articulate the way they’re feeling or thinking, but the signs and signals come through to the adults around them via action (or lack thereof) and verbal cues. This includes:

  • saying they’re depressed/sad/feeling bad
  • withdrawing/isolation
  • not wanting to participate in activities
  • cutting and other self-destructive/harming behaviors
  • drug/alcohol abuse
  • loss of appetite
  • always sleeping or perhaps not being able to sleep
  • no longer engaging with friends or family

The burden of these feelings can be so overwhelming that a teen doesn’t know which way to turn.

For some, they can perhaps see a therapist, make lifestyle changes, or beef up the support system, but it may not be enough.

Some teens may need a bit more intervention or help and that’s okay because there are times where antidepressant medications can be a vital lifeline for survival.

Source: Scopio. Artist: Alba Davi

Don’t Get me Wrong… I’m not Advocating for Meds, but…

In our western world, medicating kids to stymie their behavior has become the norm and it’s not one I agree with.

Here’s an Example: A kid who fidgets and can’t sit still in class may be disruptive, but that doesn’t warrant putting him on drugs. IMO that’s a cop-out. There are alternative solutions.

In school, the system tries to fit everyone into a mold for the greater good/peace of the classroom… but depression is different.

Depression is a complex mental health condition which can be triggered by many causes, including:

  • genetics
  • environmental
  • psychological factors
  • puberty-related hormonal changes
  • academic stress
  • social pressures
  • family issues
  • traumatic experiences

Each teenager’s situation is unique and paying attention to who they are as a person as to how to come up with a treatment plan is essential.

When Meds May be the Way to Go…

Antidepressant medications, have shown to be effective in treating depression in teenagers. These meds need to be prescribed and monitored by a medical practitioner. Some teens may need antidepressants because:

  1. they have a chemical imbalance in the brain. Antidepressants can help correct this imbalance, leading to an improvement in mood and emotional stability.
  2. therapy alone didn’t do the job. For some teenagers, these interventions may not be enough to alleviate their symptoms fully. In such cases, antidepressants may be necessary to complement therapy efforts.
  3. suicidal tendencies. When a teenager displays suicidal thoughts or behaviors, immediate intervention is crucial. Antidepressants can rapidly reduce the intensity of such thoughts, providing a protective effect during critical moments.
  4. antidepressants can be a tool to help alleviate some of the most debilitating symptoms of depression, allowing teens to re-engage with therapy and living life.

Meds are a Tool Not a Cure-All…

For some, meds may save their life. It can be that one thing that gets them over the hump to living again.

Don’t judge. Depressed individuals already beat themselves up, they don’t need more bashing.

Consider that short term (or whatever is deemed necessary), use of meds is a step up out of hell… Just think about that.

Each person’s journey is unique and personal. The last thing we want to do is put mental health back under the rock. It’s not something to be ignored.

Looking back, it’s rather ironic because over the years I’ve watched some people struggle and I sometimes wonder what their life could have been had they received medical intervention to deal with their depression.

Perhaps there’d be fewer alcoholics, less violent domestic issues, or reduced numbers of divorces… Who knows?

If someone needed life saving medication for a ‘condition’ or ‘disease’ we don’t think twice. We don’t judge a type 2 diabetic for not exercising enough or tell them to pull up their boot straps and learn to live with it.

Why then, do we do that with mental health? Why the scrutiny and blame? That doesn’t seem very fair or caring. At times, people may have to step aside and MYOB.

Source:Scopio. Artist: Paolo Barretta

Steer a Young Person Towards Help…

If you notice a young person in your life is struggling with their mental health, embrace them and let them know they’re not alone.

Help them find the Suicide Prevention Hotlines and Kid Help Lines and put the number in their phones. Accompany them to the doctor if necessary. Advocate for them. Don’t put them down. Recognize that depression is a real thing.

The Kids Hotline in BC is available 24/7:  1-800-668-6868

Kids Help Phone is here to support you. Anywhere in Canada, any time, about anything.Text 686868

You can also go to KIDS HELP to get more information and learn about what’s really going on with some youth today.

Please share your thoughts with me…


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5 thoughts on “Teens and Antidepressants: A Possible Lifeline for Survival”

  1. Absolutely agree, Faye. When you have a depressed person, no matter what their age, medication can be the bridge to getting them to where they can cope. As parents, it’s our responsibility to try every avenue available for our children.

  2. You have an important and wise insight into mental health. I hope this posting is read by many.

  3. Well done, Faye, to talk about depression. Good suggestions. You never know who you’ve helped. Recent research has also found that a diet lacking in critical vitamins & minerals, particularly the B vitamins, may be a factor in depression.

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