The UK's National Health Service in the Tayside region of Scotland has prescribed antidepressants to children as young as one years old, according to a new report.
The Evening Telegraph obtained statistics that show at least 450 children under 18-years-old were prescribed antidepressants between January and May of 2016, including a seven-year-old girl.
In 2014, the figures showed the NHS prescribed the mood-altering drug to a one-year-old boy, as well.
In response to the report, a NHS Tayside spokeswoman said the drugs could be prescribed for a number of different reasons:
Antidepressants are a type of medication used to treat clinical depression, or prevent it from recurring. However, they can also be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, such as chronic pain and anxiety disorders.
If appropriate for individual patients, antidepressants are prescribed and often used in combination with therapy to treat more severe depression, or other mental health conditions caused by emotional distress.
Alternative treatments for depression include talking therapies, such as cognitive [behavioral] therapy and [counseling]. Regular exercise has also been shown to be useful for those with mild depression.
If young people are not feeling themselves, feeling down or experiencing a low mood, it is important that they seek support by talking to someone they trust, such as their parents, friends, GP or a support service...
The Telegraph reported in January that NHS guidelines say children younger than 18 should not be given Prozac, but there are more than 100,000 prescriptions written for teens each year.
A study released in June found most antidepressants don't help children and teens with serious mental health problems.
The study reviewed published and unpublished clinical trials of 14 antidepressant drugs and found that only Prozac did better than a placebo in helping young people with major depression, according to The Guardian.
The study, published in the UK's Lancet medical journal, added that the effectiveness of antidepressants with children and teenagers is not clear because of the poor clinical trials, 65 percent of which were funded by pharmaceutical companies.
According to the study authors, the percentage of children under 19-years-old using antidepressants in the UK increased from 0.7 percent to 1.1 percent from 2005 and 2012.