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Number of children prescribed drugs for ADHD and depression rises

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New figures show a rise in the number of children being given prescriptions for drugs to treat ADHD and mental health problems.

More than 420,000 prescriptions were written for under-16s in 2007, an increase of 33% on 2005, according to figures obtained by the Conservative Party.

The number of prescriptions written for 16 to 18 year-olds increased by 51% to 40,000.

The figures also shows that prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-psychotics are increasing.

More than 113,000 prescriptions of anti-depressants were issued to children under 16 in 2007 and nearly 108,000 to 16 to 18-year-olds.

More than 86,000 prescriptions of anti-psychotics were issued to those under 18 in 2007.

Shadow health minister, Anne Milton, said: “Increasingly, health professionals are prescribing drugs to treat child mental health problems, when evidence suggests that talking therapies can have an equal, if not better effect.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Treatment with prescribed drugs should only be started after a specialist in ADHD has thoroughly assessed the child or adolescent and confirmed the diagnosis.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • As a former elementary school principal, I am quite aware that attention difficulties are just the tip of the iceberg. ADHD children can't filter out distractions, finish tasks on-time, use their memory optimally, etc. A pill doesn't teach these skills.

    My wife and I opted to use cognitive training for our son, Alex. We used Play Attention ( and ADHD Nanny ( We've been very successful with these approaches. We also changed our parenting skills with great success.

    It's just important to know that medicine teaches nothing. Parents and teachers must actively participate to help change a child's life.

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