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A study by the university of Swansea found that 40 per cent of under 24’s were being prescribed Citalopram despite warnings from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Doctors are ignoring the health watchdog guidelines by prescribing this drug to teenagers, despite the warning it carries a warning that it can increase suicidal thoughts.

NICE recommend that antidepressants should be the last resort for the under-18s. In cases where a prescription needs to be given then only Fluoxetine (Prozac) is recommended.

Recent studies into Citalopram have found that the drug doesn’t work for children and is highly toxic in overdose.

Dr Ann John, the lead author at Swansea, told the Daily Telegraph: “The only antidepressant licensed for use in children and young people is Fluoxetine and the recent study showed that it is the only that works.”

The research looked at 195 practices in Wales for ten years from 2003. They found that despite recorded diagnoses of depression falling during that period, prescribing of anti-depressants has risen by 28 per cent.

Dr John said that GPs needed better training on how to distinguish between growing pains and unhappiness, and real mental illness.

“The teenage years are a phase of gaining independence, engaging with the world and testing boundaries,” she said. “This can result in normal developmental range of emotional responses – stress, loneliness, sadness and frustration.”

A report this year by the Nordic Cochrane Centre reviewed 70 trials of the most common anti-depressants. The study of over 18,000 people found they doubled the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviour in those under 18.

Research by The Lancet in 2016 found that out of all the anti-depressants being prescribed, only Fluoxetine worked for young people suffering major depression.

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