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Should I Put My Teenager on Antidepressants?

a teen rests their head in their hands and wonders about antidepressants for teens

As a parent whose teenager battles depression, you face the excruciatingly difficult question: Should I put my teenager on antidepressants? With children and teens, the decision to start using medication can be especially challenging because their young brains are still developing. And while antidepressant medications are generally safe, they can have unpleasant side effects. On the other hand, severe depression or anxiety left untreated can hinder a teenager’s development and, in some cases, may become life-threatening. It’s essential to consider the benefits and side effects of antidepressants for teens. If your child needs a depression treatment program, contact Honey Lake Clinic at 888.428.0562 today.

What are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are a type of medication commonly used to treat depression and other mental health conditions such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They work by changing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, which help regulate mood, emotions, and behavior. The most common types of antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

Are Antidepressants Safe for Teens?

The safety of antidepressants for teenagers has been a subject of debate in recent years. While studies have shown that antidepressants can effectively treat depression in teens, there have been concerns about the potential side effects, including an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. However, it’s important to note that these risks are relatively low and can be monitored closely by a doctor.

What Is the Safest Antidepressant for Teens?

There is no specific “safest” antidepressant for teenagers, as everyone reacts differently to medication. However, studies have shown that SSRIs like Prozac and SNRIs like Wellbutrin are generally well-tolerated and have fewer side effects compared to other antidepressants. Your child’s doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your teenager based on their individual needs.

Benefits of Antidepressants for Teens

For many teenagers, antidepressants combined with psychotherapy are an effective way to treat depression. Antidepressants can help a teen:

Improve their mood

  • Improve appetite
  • Increase focus
  • Resolve sleep disturbance associated with depression
  • Decrease anxious symptoms that can occur with depression
  • Decrease depressive symptoms that can trigger suicidal thoughts

While the decision to use antidepressants for teens can be difficult, they can be a crucial component of a comprehensive treatment plan, providing significant relief from the debilitating effects of depression and anxiety.

Side Effects of Antidepressants for Teens

Every medication comes with side effects. While some may cause minor inconveniences that can be managed, others can have more severe consequences. When starting treatment with an antidepressant, it is crucial to have a thorough discussion about all potential side effects.

Additionally, it is essential to closely monitor your teenager and maintain regular appointments with the prescribing doctor. By doing so, you can ensure their well-being and address any concerns promptly.

SSRIs, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, can have the following side effects:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Insomnia or sedation
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Sexual side effects

While these side effects may seem daunting, for many teenagers, the benefits of antidepressants far outweigh the potential risks.

Other Options for Teenage Anxiety and Depression

While antidepressants can be an effective treatment, they are not the only option for teenage anxiety and depression. Exploring other treatment options such as therapy, lifestyle changes, and support groups is essential. A combination of these approaches may be the best course of action for your teenager.


Therapy, also known as psychotherapy or talk therapy, can help teenagers learn coping mechanisms and develop healthy ways to manage their depression and anxiety. A therapist can provide a safe space for your teenager to express their thoughts and feelings, as well as offer tools and techniques to improve their mental health.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to medication and therapy, lifestyle changes can also play a crucial role in managing teenage anxiety and depression. Encourage your teenager to engage in physical activity, maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing.

Support Groups

Support groups can provide teenagers with a sense of community and understanding. These groups can be found online or through local mental health organizations. They can offer support, advice, and a safe space to share experiences with others who are going through similar struggles.

Choosing the Best Treatment Plan for Your Teenager at Honey Lake Clinic

While the decision to put your teenager on antidepressants can be difficult, it’s important to consider all options and work closely with a doctor to determine the best course of action. Antidepressants can be an effective tool in treating teenage anxiety and depression when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

If your teenager needs a depression treatment program, Honey Lake Clinic offers a Christian-based approach to mental health treatment that includes medication management, therapy, and support groups. Contact us today at 888.428.0562 for more information on our programs and how we can help your teen find healing and hope.