A rise in the use of anti-depressant drugs among children is a concern, the World Health Organization has said. And a recent study shows that there was a 54% increase in the number of young people prescribed them in the UK.
Anti-depressants are a recognised treatment for managing depression in children but National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines state they should not be offered initially for symptoms of mild depression. And, reported the BBC, in more serious cases, anti-depressants are only meant to be used in conjunction with psychological therapies.
Natasha Devon, the government’s mental health champion for England, said there was a real problem with getting young people access to ‘talking therapies’ liked hypnotherapy.
“The problem is, of course, is that there is a huge waiting list,” she added. “It can be eight weeks if you’re lucky, it’s far more likely to run into months, so during that interim period all you have are these anti-depressants.”
In her work visiting schools she told the BBC that she had become aware of increasing numbers of children using anti-depressants, and is concerned that ‘they can only ever treat the symptoms, they don’t get to the root cause of the issue’.
Professor Mark Baker, director of clinical practice at health watchdog NICE, said he recognised that accessing child and adolescent mental health services has been a growing problem. He said this might have led to more severe cases of depression in young people being managed in primary care for longer.
Members of the National Council for Hypnotherapy – the largest not-for-profit professional organisation for hypnotherapists in the UK with more than 1,800 therapists on its register – are well-trained and qualified to deal with anxiety, stress and depression issues for both adults and children.
At a recent NCH meeting, well-known child hypnotherapist Lynda Hudson said working with children in clinical hypnotherapy which she described as ‘rewarding, not always fun and sometimes challenging’.
Hypnotherapy for anxiety, stress or depression, says the NCH, will see the therapist using the first session to assess the anxiety, identifying the root of stress or anxiety and whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.
After a few sessions with a hypnotherapist, the child may feel more confident and more relaxed in situations that have previously been a bit of a challenge. Many children say they are calmer and have more clarity of thought.
Hudson said it was important to involve family members in the solution as parents could often have issues which might impact on the child or have a differing opinion on the scale of the problem.
Quite often, in treating children, Hudson added, she did not need or use the trance state and questioning, thinking and discussing the problem was a major part of the solution-focused treatment.
Anxiety can affect children in many ways and performance in tests and exams, for instance, can be adversely affected by anxiety, even if the student is well-prepared.
Hypnotherapy with an NCH member can help control exam nerves and clear the mind to ensure students make the most of their potential.