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The Rise in Antidepressant Use Among Youth

  • March 28, 2012
  • RPh on the Go

It’s no secret that today’s youth are under constant barrage from media, social networks, and society as a whole regarding how they should look, what they should feel, who they should date, and how they should handle their emotions. The downside to this is an alarming rate of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses in today’s young people. What this means for pharmaceutical companies is an unprecedented amount of clients that will be filling prescriptions for anxiety medications, SSRIs, and even scripts for anti-psychotic medications.

Treating these youth comes with a catch-22. Some of these medications cause well known and unwanted side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction or loss of libido, acne, and more. In severe cases, use of antidepressants must be closely monitored by health care professionals due to the increase of suicidal tendencies in the youth taking the medication. How can pharmacies address the concerns of their clients that are experiencing some of these side effects? The answer to that is simple: Offer resources.

If space is available, display literature from local low-cost or sliding scale mental health clinics, sex therapists, and special interest support groups, for example: if such a thing exists in your local community, offer a pamphlet from a group for youth suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other mental health issues. The key to addressing the problems that come with the amount of young people that are on such medications is to make sure that they know they are not alone. Many youth are often bullied, and their mental health deteriorates if they feel that they are alienated in their community. Often times, this can result in a tragic (and preventable) loss of life. It is everyone’s to do what they can to reduce the amount of young people lost to the choice to take their own lives.

Another issue is the cost of such medications for homeless and alienated youth that may not have access to family or state funded health insurance. To prevent these young people from simply opting to “not take” their medication or live without it, a priority should be to display any information from your suppliers telling your clients how they can receive free or low cost medication. Most drug manufacturers offer some sort of program to those who are struggling to make ends meet, and to youth on a fixed income – often the choice between a vital necessity like the electric bill or medication comes up frequently. Offering these resources will make it more likely that your clients have the information available to reach out to their medication’s manufacturer to obtain their prescription for a cost that could make it affordable to them. These steps may seem small, but they can make a difference to today’s youth that is unmistakable.

Does your pharmacy have any special programs for young people who fill prescriptions for antidepressants?

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