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Antidepressant Triggered Suicidal Thoughts

Q. My 17-year-old son is feeling depressed. He is sad and tired and would sleep all day long if we allowed it. The doctor prescribed Prozac, but after the second day of taking it my son said he had thoughts of suicide. I immediately stopped giving it to him.

I would like to know more about the alternatives for treating depression. It is very hard for him to focus, so he didn’t do well in school. The only thing that seems to interest him is composing songs and playing his guitar. I hope you can help us.

A. You were wise to be attentive to your son’s reaction to Prozac. There is a growing realization that some people may become suicidal shortly after starting on an antidepressant.

Don’t give up on treatment, though. Counseling (such as cognitive behavioral therapy), exercise, daily sunlight, fish oil or perhaps a different antidepressant might be helpful in reversing his depression.

We are sending you our new Guide to Dealing with Depression for a discussion of the various medications and non-drug approaches to treating this disorder.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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