105: The Effects of SSRI Medications on Kid's Brain
SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) medications are often prescribed to treat conditions such as major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder in children and adolescents. And while SSRIs are generally considered safe, there have been concerns regarding their use.
This episode is perfect for those who are thinking about medicating their child with SSRIs or already doing so. We’ll be diving deep into the effects of SSRIs on a kid’s brain.
The dangers of SSRIs.
SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are psychiatric medications used for the purpose of increasing serotonin levels in the brain. They are widely used in clinical practice and have been proven to be effective in many cases.
However, when we speak of SSRI medication, we also have to discuss the dangers it entails insofar as there is an FDA black box warning on it for anybody under the age of 25. In reality, most people don't think twice about taking it because somebody they trust – whether it’s their kids, pediatrician, a psychiatrist, or some professional in the medical field – has prescribed it to them.
We have to remember that 100% of psychiatric medication comes with a toxic effect. That is why it’s important for us to really take into consideration natural solutions instead of resorting to medications primarily. It is thus crucial to balance the potential benefits of treatment against the risks of untreated mental health conditions, which can have serious consequences on a person's overall well-being and functioning.
According to a Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, an organization from the UK, the risks posed by and associated with SSRI medications outweigh the benefits for anybody who is under the age of 18. In fact, a 2007 study shows that 60% of adolescents using SSRIs experience side effects which could lead to more severe conditions.
The importance of serotonin.
Serotonin is created in the gut and the good thing about that is that there are many things we can do to change how our microbiome works, so that we can get serotonin back in our brain naturally. This fact comes as a shock to many people whenever they know about this.
Serotonin is important for mood and attention insofar as it helps with the mood regulation, and imbalances in serotonin levels have been linked to conditions like depression and anxiety. This is why it is often referred to as the "happy hormone".
It also plays a vital role in the regulation of sleep-wake cycles, promoting sleep by converting to melatonin, a hormone that influences sleep patterns. As such, imbalances in serotonin and melatonin production can contribute to sleep disorders.
Mental health and weight gain.
Other risks posed by SSRI medications include anxiety, agitation, suicidal thoughts and other mental health issues. I’ve encountered many cases wherein someone already dealing with a mood disorder or other mental health condition experiences worse symptoms or conditions.
It may also trigger fatigue, restlessness, and even gut issues. Some people, especially teenagers, also experience weight gain. We always have to prioritize one’s overall well-being, health and safety, which is why it is essential to find a qualified medical provider who will educate you about all the necessary information and provide you safe options.
Moreover, your medical provider shall take a comprehensive or holistic approach when it comes to evaluating someone’s condition and also take into account the family history, medical history, as well as other factors that may contribute to whatever he or she is experiencing to prevent it from worsening.
Understanding a patient's history is crucial in identifying any pre-existing medical conditions or medications that might interact with potential treatments. It also provides information into any previous or ongoing health concerns that may be relevant to the current symptoms.
Options for treating anxiety and depression.
Other than medications, we have options for treating anxiety and depression such as an anti-inflammatory diet and a healthy lifestyle. Anything that is nutrient dense with fats and proteins and clean is going to tremendously help their brain.
Engaging in mindfulness-based activities like yoga, meditation and breathing works can also help improve your kid’s mental health. These activities help children develop coping mechanisms to manage stress and anxiety. Doing these regularly can also promote emotional regulation, better sleep quality, and improved attention.
For further information, you can read our blog posts about the side effects of SSRI medication (https://drroseann.com/ssri-medication-side-effects-in-children/) and ADHD treatment without medication (https://drroseann.com/67-ways-how-to-help-a-child-with-adhd-without-medication/).