Family GPs are prescribing antidepressants to children as young as 11 ‘too willingly’ as they ‘routinely’ flout rules about giving the drugs to under-18s
- GPs should only prescribe antidepressants to under-18s after an assessment
- Just 1 in 4 teens who were given first-time prescription had seen a psychiatrist
- Prescriptions for children aged 12 to 17 in England had more than doubled
Family doctors are routinely flouting the rules by giving antidepressants to children as young as 11.
GPs are only supposed to prescribe the drugs to under-18s after they have been assessed by a psychiatrist.
But they often hand them out before this, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
Just one in four teens who were given antidepressants for the first time between 2006 to 2017 had seen a psychiatrist.
Family doctors are routinely flouting the rules by giving antidepressants to children as young as 11
In total, the number of those aged 12 to 17 prescribed the drugs in England more than doubled from 2005 to 2017.
It peaked at an all-time high of 27,757 in March – two-thirds of whom were girls.
Children get them for anxiety, pain and bed-wetting as well as depression.
The NIHR, the NHS’s research body, said: ‘No antidepressants are licensed children under 18 except for obsessive compulsive disorder. Yet specialists [psychiatrists] and GPs prescribe them.
In total, the number of those aged 12 to 17 prescribed the drugs in England more than doubled from 2005 to 2017
‘The numbers continue to rise and many have not seen a specialist.’
Despite the drugs only being licensed for OCD in under-18s, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence watchdog says children have them for depression.
Professor Martin Marshall, of the Royal College of GPs, said antidepressants may be in a young patient’s ‘best interests’.
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