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Panelists question antidepressant use

During a panel discussion on clinical depression at Marquette University in Wisconsin, some participants speculated that antidepressants might be over-prescribed.

An article about the event in the Marquette Tribune says one of the panel participants was Katherine Sharpe, the author of “Coming of Age on Zoloft.” Sharpe, who was first prescribed Zoloft when she was in college, questions whether the widespread practice of medical professionals automatically prescribing antidepressants harms the emotional development of young people who have been on the medication for years.

The article quotes Sharpe as saying: “(Medication) has become our first line of treatment. But it doesn’t really help people understand why they’re having these symptoms in the first place. Defining the problem as a biological problem or a chemical imbalance can make them feel like there’s nothing they can do about it.”

Some types of antidepressants have also become a cause of concern in recent years because of potential health risks. A number of studies have linked antidepressants categorized as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, with potentially dangerous heart and lung defects in newborns.

SSRI antidepressants include Prozac and Zoloft.

The Marquette Tribune cites a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2006 to 2008, which found that nine percent of Americans meet the criteria for some form of depression — including 10.9 percent of those aged 18 to 24.

According to CDC statistics, 11 percent of Americans aged 12 and older now take antidepressants, making them the third most prevalent prescription drug used in the U.S. among all ages, and the most common among those aged 18 to 44, from 2005 to 2008.

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries from SSRIs.

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