Are antidepressants overprescribed? Our expert’s opinion

Are antidepressants overprescribed?  Our expert's opinion

Justice is looking into the death of young Romain, 16, which occurred in 2021. His parents suspect that the antidepressant he was taking is responsible for his death. Are antidepressants overprescribed? The point of view of Dr Jean-Jacques Bonamour du Tartre, psychiatrist and former president of the French Federation of Psychiatry (FFP).

The parents of Romain, 16, who committed suicide in 2021, are convinced that his death was caused by an antidepressant. The medication would have lifted his inhibitions and influenced his behavior, to the point of leading him to commit suicide.

The courts, which are currently looking into this case, are trying to determine whether this link can explain the death of the young boy.

Depression must be well managed

In Europe, six million people, or around 10% of the population, are on antidepressants. Adolescents and young adults are also an age group susceptible to depression, an omnipresent mental pathology since the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the entire world in 2020. But are young people being overdiagnosed?

According to Dr. Jean-Jacques Bonamour du Tartre, this makes no sense. “We must remember the importance of correctly diagnosing depression early and remember that its management must be well managed, with prescription of medication if necessary.

Antidepressants responsible for acting out?

However, the professional does not rule out the fact that taking an antidepressant could trigger an action. “But it is not that common. In my forty years of career, I have never seen a patient to whom this has happened, we must put this risk into perspective” notes the specialist.

On the other hand, the follow-up may sometimes not be carried out well enough, and the appointments not close enough, due to lack of resources or availability, but once again, a depressed person must be treated. Because if the risk of acting out because of a medication exists, the risk of suicide because of depression is even greater.” insists the doctor.

Finally, Jean-Jacques Bonamour du Tartre reminds us that this type of mental pathology should not be widely publicized. “We know that adolescents, young adults and seniors are age groups at risk. But by dint of advertising to certain mental disorderswe induce them” he laments. So what to do? “Parents and educational teams should be made more aware of the signs of depression. They are the ones most likely to raise the alarm” he concludes.