By Joleen Murphy
The number of children prescribed anti-depressants increased by 25 per cent last year.
Over 1,700 boys and girls under 15 were given the medication in 2020.
According to freedom of information figures, 1,369 children under 15 were prescribed anti-depressants in 2019, under the medical card scheme.
Last year that increased to 1,705 - involving 371 kids under 11 and 1,334 between the ages of 12 and 15.
Consultant psychiatrist Patricia Casey says the pandemic may have been a factor in the increase.
"It may have been that more children were cooped up at home in difficult circumstance.
"Particularity if children live in deprived areas they may not have had much access to outdoor space or to gardens, and that may have been one factor.
"But it may just been part of a general trend that has seen the number of anti depressants increasing over time anyway.
She also says these medications only work on people who are clinically depressed.
"With a careful assessment one would realise that were just deeply unhappy often because of familial problems, psycho social problems, trauma.
"Anti-depressants are not a treatment for unhappiness in children or in adults.
The number of children on anti-depressants has increased every year since 2010, when the total number was just 145.
That year, just 51 kids under 11 were on the drugs under the medical card scheme - a number that was 627 per cent higher last year.
And in 2010, 94 children between 12 and 15 were on the medication - a number which was nearly 12 times higher last year.
For more information on how to get support visit aware.ie.
Photo credit: Pexels Images/Pixabay