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Experience of teenagers taking (or not taking) Anti Depressants please

(32 Posts)
dahliaa Sat 04-Jun-16 12:11:43

Hi I have written about DS before. He is 17 and about 4 months ago was diagnosed with serious depression and anxiety. He is being seen by a psychologist via CAHMS.
In some ways the depression has seen some improvement but the anxiety has become the main symptom and increased.
He has had a very difficult week - almost constant anxiety. Doesn't seem to be linked to anything in particular but he has very 'physical' anxiety feelings. Last night couldn't sleep at all and this morning has been very sick.
Originally we were concerned about medication because of the reports about dangers for teenagers but he really needs some extra help. I am so worried for him.
It would be really useful to hear about experiences of medication - good and bad.
Plus if anyone has anyone has any other tips for anxiety treatment. Thank you!

Peebles1 Sat 04-Jun-16 15:16:09

I was reluctant too, and started a thread just like yours, but a good experience here. DD was also 17, anxiety with similar symptoms, and mild depression (presumably as a result). Prescribed Citalopram. Worked after about 6 weeks. There were probably improvements earlier than that. No more panic attacks and mood much better.

Main problem has been excessive sleepiness. She was tired all the time. Missed college a lot as slept through alarms/phone calls etc. This improved around week 12 but can still be a problem. However, not helped by rather nocturnal lifestyle on a weekend.

She'd have changed to a different antidepressant but didn't want to mess with meds in the lead up to exams. She's very, very glad she went on them and feels they've made such a difference to her.

They don't solve everything and she can still have down days. She's not sleeping at all well at the minute as exams approach, for example. But overall a massive improvement.

Good luck to your DS.

dahliaa Sat 04-Jun-16 18:46:31

Thank you so much for the reply and detail. I'm really glad that your DD has improved.
At the moment the anxiety can be so overwhelming that it's difficult for him to do any of the cbt stuff etc. the panic seems to come out of nowhere and even though all the books say that panic attacks last say half an hours he seems to have a horrible 'hang over' from them for days. He is so so shaky today which makes him really scared. He is 6 ft 1 and gorgeous and I can't bear to see him so upsetsad. I've been trying to say to him that it will be the cortisol and adrenaline still running round his body - and to try and ignore and accept and eventually it will calm down. But easier said than done when you feel so bad.
He had seemed a bit better and I think that's why he is finding this set back particularly hard.

blimppy Sat 04-Jun-16 19:09:43

Hi. I think this is something which is really hard to decide based on other people's experience. Some do well on ADs; my DD had a really bad reaction and her self harming and panic attacks got significantly worse over the 5 months or so she was on them. I think it's pot luck really. I certainly would never say don't do it, because they can work wonders for many. Just be very alert to any adverse changes in his behaviour.

dahliaa Sat 04-Jun-16 19:30:27

Blimppy I'm so sorry that happened - must have been terrifying. I've read quite a lot of reports saying similar things so I guess I was trying to get a more balanced picture (if I'm honest I think I was so worried by the negative press reports that I maybe subconsciously looked for anecdotal evidence 'proving' that they were bad news. But I don't want to prevent DS having something that he really needs or that could help him just because of my own concerns. (If that makes any sense whatsoever.)
This is without doubt the most difficult thing I have faced in all those years of parenting - I just feel totally inadequate in making decisions.

Peebles1 Sat 04-Jun-16 20:41:51

Huge sympathies Dahliaa. It is so hard. DD could barely leave the house for about three months. I've felt 'on call' for the past three years really, though as I say things have greatly improved. I agree with you, it is the hardest thing I've had to deal with as a parent.

I wonder if it's even harder with a DS (huge generalisation I know). My DS (older than DD) went through a trauma some time later that left him with PTSD and he also had panic attacks etc. He had brilliant therapy and seems fine now. He also benefitted from talking to DD. However, it was more difficult for me to support him in a way coz he was a little older (20) and had that male pride/independence thing. DD will wake me in the night if she needs to, and likes me to stroke her hair to calm her sometimes, but DS wouldn't have dreamt of waking me and wouldn't welcome that physical closeness. So it may be a little harder with a DS, not sure.

Good that your DS is engaging in therapy. I'm sure that will help. Is he at college or anything? Do you think the stress of exams is making it all worse? Mine both found Moodjuice useful. They do booklets online that you can print off and work through. However, your DS's therapy is probably more than covering it. I'm sure more posters will be along to give good advice, like they did with me.

dahliaa Sat 04-Jun-16 22:49:21

Thanks for the support Peebles. It's so difficult in RL because I don't think people understand. I'm very lucky with DS because we are very close. He shut me out completely at first which I found heartbreaking but at the moment has moved on from that and does actually let me do things like give him a head massage. I've no idea if it's any help whatsoever but at least it makes me feel like I'm doing something.
The psychologist is very nice but in not sure they are really getting anywhere. She says thinks like 'he is very bright / very self aware - so I'm sure he'll find his way through this' but in reality he's like a lost little boy.
We are due to see her in a week and a half so I will try and get him to come up with some focussed things to try and get help with. But the intense anxiety and lack of sleep continue in the same way then I think we might need to ask for another review with the psychiatrist.
He is in the middle of AS levels but in a way the anxiety has overtaken all that and do I don't think they have caused any extra problems. After getting advice here I had a meeting with the school and they are being very supportive.
Anyway thanks again for the support and info - will look at mood juice. Hope you and DD have a peaceful Sunday.

corythatwas Mon 06-Jun-16 01:11:58

Dd takes Fluoxetine and has done for several years. It hasn't done away with the anxiety but it took the edge off it enough to enable her to work with CBT techniques, and the two together help her to keep ticking over. She still has very physical panic attacks, but she is able to deal with them far better and in some ways to dissociate herself from them and see them from outside. She has gone from cowering under the bedclothes unable to go to school to passing her A-levels and now holding down a fulltime job. Sometimes she will still ring me saying "I'm panicking" but whereas in the past she would have been completely helpless and needed picking up, now all she wants is me to reassure her briefly that she can deal whatever is freaking her out.

dahliaa Mon 06-Jun-16 14:29:16

Thanks Corythatwas - it's so useful to hear different experiences.
DS has an appointment with the psychologist in the middle of next week so will monitor till then and see what she suggests. It may be that the decision is taken out of our hands. I just want him to get some time at ease :-( it's such a horrible horrible illness.

corythatwas Mon 06-Jun-16 14:39:25

All best wishes dahlia flowers It is a horrible illness.

dahliaa Mon 06-Jun-16 17:08:07

Thank you - I'm so glad your DD has had some relief

Clara66 Mon 06-Jun-16 22:26:48

Hi Dahliaa, just wanted to add another positive view of ADs. My dd, now 18, had severe depression and wouldn't engage in counselling. She started on fluoxetine, but it had side effects of fainting and sickness. She moved to sertraline, has been on it for about a year, and is a different girl. She has the odd wobble, but I really have my daughter back.

Good luck X

dahliaa Tue 07-Jun-16 20:53:08

Thanks so much Clara66. I really appreciate all of this real life experience. Glad your DD so much better.

KittiesInsane Wed 08-Jun-16 13:25:03

DS has taken fluoxetine for the past 6 months. I think (looking from outside) that it takes the edge off his anxiety but possibly he needs a higher dose for more effect. His view is that it doesn't seem to have much effect, so why take more of it? I'm not sure which of us is right.

He had a 12-week bout of CBT last year but probably needs something more.

The biggest problem I have is that it takes so, so long to persuade him that anything might even be worth trying. He's very resistant to help.

dementedma Wed 08-Jun-16 13:29:39

Dd had a breakdown at Christmas. She is now on 200mg of Sertralene which seems an enormous dose to me. ( She is 25, not a teen). Counselling seems to help but NHS psychiatrist wasn't helpful at all and quite dismissive. Don't know how to deal with it .sad

dahliaa Wed 08-Jun-16 16:51:45

I'm sorry your son/daughter both struggling too :-(
It's definitely the hardest thing I've had to deal with so far in terms of parenting.

KittiesInsane Wed 08-Jun-16 17:15:02

Absolutely agree with that. It makes me second-guess myself that whole time as a parent - does he need us to be soothing/sympthetic/ brisk? organise things for him/avoid organising so that he feels he's the one in control? advise him to keep persevering with work/take a complete break because nothing matters as much as his mental health...?


KittiesInsane Wed 08-Jun-16 17:15:21

Ignore random 'that' up there

missybct Wed 08-Jun-16 17:40:17

I'm sorry to all those with teens suffering flowers

I was a teen who was prescribed anti-depressants at a very young age, initially for disordered eating, followed by depression and self harm and then in later teens/early 20's anxiety.

I think anything above around 16-17 is an OK age to be taking AD's, but should largely be looked at on a case-by-case basis (i.e; look at pro's and con's, can teen benefit from speaking therapy beforehand, how severe is the MH). I was put on them at 14, which is insanely young and the medication I was put on was advised never to be given under the age of 16/18. There are however AD's which are less severe in nature (think SSRI's - citalopram, fluxoetine) which I believe are now routinely used with the medicating of anxiety and depression. My experience started in the 90's where I've been told that the use of AD's before adulthood was less common, but I'm not sure how much truth there is in that.

So, with that in mind, I believe medication can and should be used - your son OP sounds like he has a pervasive pattern of anxious thoughts that then manifest into physical symptoms - you said the psych said he's "very self aware" but in my experience, when untreated, being self aware is usually very difficult for those who are suffer from anxiety/depression - because naturally, you focus on yourself and how you feel, which equals stronger reactions/emotions.

It's good to hear he's with a psychologist, but oftentimes "talking" isn't really enough, those with anxiety need practical tools that enable them to tackle the anxiety. If the anxiety is very pronounced (which it is at the moment, leading to "hangovers" - this is v common btw) engaged in CBT will be possibly too overwhelming and counterproductive in some regards as your DS will be "rehashing" the reasons as to why he feels anxious. The CBT would be best left for the time being, until the physical symptoms are managed, then reintroduced phase by phase. Sometimes backsteps will be taken but they are VITAL because thumbing something through can end up with further distortion of thinking, or hopelessness toward therapy. I experienced both, which put me off therapy for a very long time - had someone said to me "It's OK not find it working" I believe my MH journey would have been far shorter.

I wonder whether your DS panics about the physical symptoms themselves? I know I used to panic about panicking, however perverse that sounded - and in the midst of a chronic 4 months I would quite literally hole myself up in my room for fear of panicking in public. I was 22 and wouldn't leave the house without somebody with me who I trusted (which was at the time limited to Mum and my brother). What really helped me was to know that you can't die from a panic attack - once I understood the physical process of a panic attack, I could better control one - I knew that gasping for air made me dizzy and sick, and that I was gasping because I was hyperventilating and feeling I couldn't breathe, but the very fact I felt dizzy and sick was because I was taking in too much oxygen, and that if I slowed my breathing down, all the symptoms that were scaring me would disappear because rather than being suffocated through NO oxygen, I was actually flooding my body full of it. I don't know why, but ever since I read that bit of information, my attacks are seldom and very brief in nature, linked only to when I feel sick (I have emetophobia, although it's a lot better than it has been and was my anxiety "trigger).

Lastly - can I tell you that I can almost 99% promise that if you are afraid you're not doing enough as parents, or that you are wondering if you're doing the right thing - you're doing BRILLIANTLY and believe me, your kids will be so grateful for the kindness, support and love you've given them. My Mum was my rock, still is - I do still call her when I panic sometimes (I'm 31 and pregnant!) because we all have moments when we need our parents. The doubt you have towards whether you're doing the right thing is entirely normal because you love your children and want what is best for them. I can tell you as a teen who had many, many years of MH issues (mine escalated for reasons beyond anxiety/depression), you Mum's are the reason we keep going flowers

KittiesInsane Wed 08-Jun-16 17:45:06

Missy, thank you. Your reply just made me cry.

missybct Wed 08-Jun-16 17:55:36

Honestly, if I can be of any help from the "other" side/perspective, please do ask. I can speak without it troubling me, so please don't be afraid to ask questions. I'm going to be a Mum to a little boy in September, and I'd be glad to help those Mum's in need, even if I don't have it from a "mother's" perspective yet smile

dahliaa Wed 08-Jun-16 19:03:31

kittyinsane you have my sympathiesflowersLast week I found myself wondering if I had chosen the wrong play group 14 years ago !!!hmm (Despite the fact that DS loved it.) I really need to keep perspective. You mentioned that your DS is taking fluoxetine but that he maybe needs a higher dose. Is he taking 20mg at the moment?

missybtc That is honestly one of the most perceptive things I have read anywhere about anxiety and mental health. Incredibly useful. I am so grateful that you took the time to write it all. Your comments on 'self aware' are spot on - it's regarded as a good thing but when it comes to anxiety it definitely doesn't help DS as he over thinks (--like his mother!!).--
You are right about the physical sensations too - he feels so awful with them but then gets into the whole cycle of 'when will they go away/what caused it' which of course just intensifies everything.
At the moment he is trying to work on 'accepting' the symptoms which will hopefully then reduce the response.
Anyway thank you again. And congratulations on your pregnancy - you sound like you will be a brilliant mum.

Peebles1 Wed 08-Jun-16 22:28:17

Yes crying here too Missy. Thank you so much for that post.

And Kitties - you summed it up perfectly. I felt very alone with it all, and initially just went with my gut instinct re: what was right. Didn't find mumsnet until we were two years in.

Peebles1 Wed 08-Jun-16 22:34:55

Dahlia - my DD has a big problem with the overthinking. She dislikes being alone because she's frightened she'll start to overthink and end up panicking.

Re: physical symptoms. She often used to describe situations where she wasn't conscious of feeling panicky. She hadn't fretted about the situation beforehand and didn't think she was panicking. Then she'd just start to feel really ill - headache, stomach pains, sick, faint, dizzy. As she got used to it she'd realise what it was and actually got quite annoyed about it rather than frightened. She kind of learnt to deal with it really, once she knew what it all was.

As I said, though, it doesn't happen much since the ADs.

How is your DS doing now?

dahliaa Wed 08-Jun-16 23:03:38

Peebles1 Really interesting about the physical symptoms. That describes exactly how DS is with them - I'm really hoping he can get to the same position as your DD did (ie irritated so they have less power.)
DS has had a bit more sleep last few nights. Fingers crossed for tonight. Anxiety very up and down and his system is definitely on high alert and he seems to be having 'flash backs' to the panic attacks but he has been coming for a walk with me each evening and talking which has been a good opportunity for him to get some of it out.

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