As many as 450 children given mood-altering drugs by health service in Tayside, new figures reveal
NHS Tayside in Dundee prescribed the medication to 450 children between January and May this year, with the youngest being seven years old.
In 2014, the trust prescribed antidepressants to a one-year-old boy, according to figures obtained by the Dundee Evening Telegraph.
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside told the Evening Telegraph the drugs could be used to treat a number of different conditions beyond their most common use as a treatment for clinical depression.
She said: “Antidepressants are a type of medication used to treat clinical depression, or prevent it from recurring.
“However, they can also be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, such as chronic pain and anxiety disorders.
“If appropriate for individual patients, antidepressants are prescribed and often used in combination with therapy to treat more severe depression, or other mental health conditions caused by emotional distress.
She added: “Alternative treatments for depression include talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling. Regular exercise has also been shown to be useful for those with mild depression.”
The figures also showed the most common age group for antidepressants to be prescribed was for those aged between 14 and 17, and that girls were more likely to be given the medication than boys.
In January this year, the largest ever review of clinical study reports compiled by drug companies found teenagers were twice as likely to commit suicide if they were taking antidepressants.
The review also said the risks for adults may have been seriously underestimated.
Though NHS guidelines state that under 18s should not be prescribed antidepressants, over 100,000 prescriptions a year are given to teenagers, according to the Daily Telegraph.
In very young children, antidepressants can be prescribed for problems including bed-wetting and chronic pain.