Posted on March 14, 2014 in Mental Health

Antidepressants Can Cause Negative Reactions in Teens at Risk for Bipolar Disorder

Oftentimes medical research provides information about what should be done to help someone. Sometimes it reveals what should not be done. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, reported in the journal Bipolar Disordersthat teens at risk for bipolar do not fare well when treated with antidepressants.

Twenty children who were suffering from anxiety or depression and had at least one parent with bipolar disorder were given antidepressants in this study. Seven children reacted with increased irritability. Other children responded to the therapy poorly by exhibiting increased impulsivity, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, insomnia and increased hyperactivity. The study concluded with half of the children having to quit taking the antidepressants.

Dr. Jeffrey Strawn, lead researcher of the study, asserted that youth who are suffering from anxiety and depression disorders and who are also at risk for bipolar disorder should first be treated with psychotherapeutic interventions. If needed, antidepressant medications should only be tried after psychotherapy.

While the study group was small, they saw an interesting difference in how the antidepressants affected the younger children more than the older children. Nine-year-olds had a 97 percent chance of a bad reaction compared to four percent for a 20 year old. Researchers believed that further studies with larger study groups would be needed to affirm this outcome.

Teens with bipolar disorder struggle with abnormal mood swings. Their energy levels swing up and down and leave them and those around them exhausted. Bipolar disorder often develops in the late teens, the same time anxiety is high over managing work and school and other peer pressures related to becoming an independent adult.

Researchers stress that before teens are treated with antidepressants for anxiety or depression, doctors should be aware of any family history of bipolar disorder. Health professionals and counselors can help teens who suffer from anxiety and depression. By carefully looking at the needs and health history of each patient, a personal plan can help that teen manage their mental health safely.

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