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Too Young For Meds

Question:

My friend has depression, and wants to get anti-depressants. The thing is, her parents won’t let her. She is 16. Is there anyway she can get anti-depressants without her parents’ consent?

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Answer:

There are a few issues here. First of all, how do you know your friend has depression? I’m sure that she’s feeling down and all – but there can be a difference between feeling down and being diagnosable as having a formal depressive disorder. Also – there can be a number of different reasons why someone might get depressed, and some of those reasons might need to be treated in of themselves if the depressed feelings your friend is having are to go away. For instance, some people get depressed when someone they care about drops out of their lives or dies. Other people get depressed after they start drinking a lot of alcohol on a regular basis. Still others get depressed after developing a medical disorder (and they are not just depressed because it is a bummer to have the medical disorder – the disorder actually changes their brain chemistry making it much more likely that they get depressed). Anti-depressant medications may or may not be the best way to treat the depression symptoms in any of these cases – really a physician needs to be involved to make a proper diagnosis and to decide (based on what is know about the best way to treat the causes of the depressed feelings) what means of therapy is best. Medicine may or may not be the best way for your friend. Don’t just assume that your friend is depressed and needs medicine. That is what the drug companies want you to believe. Instead, encourage your friend to see her doctor so that she can be properly diagnosed.

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p> The second issue involves the age at which someone is legally considered adult enough to make their own decisions regarding things like medicines. These rules will be different on a state by state basis. I’m no lawyer, and I don’t have any insight into the particular rules governing your community, but I do think that your friend stands a fair chance of being considered old enough to decide for herself what is right vs. wrong in this issue (provided she has a doctor’s opinion backing her up). In some communities age 16 is considered old enough for a minor to have some medical privacy – this may fall under that heading. The doctor your friend consults should be up on what is acceptable practice and what is not.

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Comments
  • OEJ

    What is the research saying about over pathologizing and over medicating our children? It seems to me that ADHD, Conduct Disorder, ODD, Anxiety and Depression are often given without consideration of the medications they may be on and the possibility of the symptoms used in the diagnosis being caused by adverse reactions to the medication, such as Adderall or Clonidine, especially when these are given in conjuction with 2 or 3 other medications.

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