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484698 tn?1208823583

Is it a good idea for a 7 year old to take Zoloft

My 7 year old son, has suffered from anxiety, night terrors, and phobias for about 2 years.  Recently, it has ramped up to the point where he is barely sleeping at night and wakes up screaming and begging for help not to be afraid of stuff.  Having anxiety myself I can't stand to see him like this anymore.  I took him to a therapist, he's been going for several months.  She suggested a psychiatrist.  I took him to the pediatrician who concurred that he should be put on Zoloft.  I've agreed.........

The problem is that I always swore I wouldn't have my children on these types of meds.  It's different for an adult or even a teenager to make that desicion, but a 7 year old doesn't really have a say in the matter.  He just doesn't want to be afraid anymore.  He wants to stop ritualistic behavior.

My question is will putting him on meds now help him from having to go on meds later?  Are there any problems later with drug addiction, other mental disorders, or future developmental issues related to taking Zoloft or any other anti anxiety meds at such a young age?  He's taking 50MG.

Thank you
9 Responses
Avatar universal
Our child has been on SSRI medication since she was six years old (Zoloft is one of the SSRI meds).  She suffers from severe anxiety.  However, some research indicates that with the proper medication (and perhaps therapy and intervention) at an early age, the "pathways" in the brain can be retrained so that the person does not require the medication for his/her entire life.  We are now in the process of weaning our child from Celexa but it is too soon to know any results (proper weaning can take a long time - she is now 12 years old).  I do know of children who have been successfully weaned from medication after four or five years (some researcher say 9-12 months but I do not know personally of anyone who benefited from that short time frame).  It is also possible that our child will require medication for her entire life.

As for drug addiction - SSRI medications are not habit-forming.  Actually, I suspect the opposite to more likely be true - teenagers not taking the proper medication often self-medicate using alcohol and other drugs simply because they feel so rotten.  I wonder - is this one of the reasons the suicide rate is so high in this age group?  The daughter of a friend of mine took a SSRI medication for approximately five years and her doctor insisted that this child undergo many blood tests to see if "any damage had occurred".  There was none indicated, and frankly without taking the medication for several years, this child would not have been able to function.  Today she is 16 years old and has been med-free for two years.  However, her mother would not be surprised that she might require medication should she have children (hormonal change).

Very, very recent research has indicated that without certain chemical, cells of the brain can die.  In one study it was shown that adding certain medications (as Zoloft), the death of these cells can be prevented.  Now, this research is very new and has not been proved - but it is very promising and certainly could change the way our children are treated.

I do know that without proper treatment our child would have not been able to function in school (or society in general).  There were no options left except medication and it sounds as if you have also reached that point (it appears your son has).  By the way, it took three different medications at varying doses to find the correct "fit" for our child so going the "medication route" can also be difficult.  But, we would do it again in a heartbeat because without her meds, our child had no life.   I wish you the best ...
200828 tn?1209921575
Your response was interesting.  I never knew that children can be put on medication at such a young age.    

If you don't mind me asking, how did you and the doctors determine that your child was suffering from anxiety?
Avatar universal
It wasn't difficult (once we knew where to look) - at school she was unable to talk, eat, use the washroom, was stiff when she moved; in fact, she spent a large part of the day rolled up in a ball in the corner of the classroom.  When she was able to move, she hung on (literally) to a little friend's T-shirt.  She was in total terror while at school.  At home there were huge tantrums, no sleep, unable to interact with others (except very few close relatives), major sensory issues and depression (yes, she was diagnosed with depression at six years of age).  In addition, she was very bright, curious, outgoing and athletic but these traits were never seen by the "general public".  She was a "poster child" with all of the symptoms of severe social anxiety.  Also, there are anxiety issues on the other side of the family.  And, we cried a lot.

200828 tn?1209921575
I would cry a lot too.  There's nothing worse than seeing your child suffer.

All the best to you
Avatar universal
There are a lot of articles out now that say children taking antidepressants is very dangerous - that a side effect is suicidal tendencies.  So - I think it is not such a good idea for kids to be on these drugs - however - if the child cannot function and cannot deal with the day to day things they have to do - then what other choice is there? If it helps to get them through the day then I would do it - just so they gain the confidence to be able to do these things.  Otherwise they will be afraid of these things and will feel worse. I would then make sure they are getting proper counseling to get to the root of the anxiety, depression and wean them off these drugs.  Anxiety/depression is usually a symptom of negative thinking - low self esteem and the inability to relax. (unless there is a medical reason - this is usually why people are depressed/anxious) This especially effects highly sensitive kids.    A good counselor can help to change these things in a child so they don't need the medicine.    Good luck!  
484698 tn?1208823583
The studies that I have read indicated that the side effects (thought of suicide, etc), is generally only seen in teenagers.  I wanted to fix this before he is a teenager, before he has low self esteem.  My son has been seeing a counselor for several months, during school last year he saw a different counselor for 9 months.  The counselor, in his case, suggested he seek a psyciatrist as well.  I didn't want to put him on any medications.  The counselor has been working with children exclusively for over 35 years.  The counselor, the psychiatrist, and ultimately his pediatrician (who he's had his whole life), all independantly came up with Zoloft.  I still didn't want to but finally decided to because he was suffering, it was hurting his self esteem and he was spending his school day in the bathroom and the healthroom. He was begging every night, "Mommy, I pray and pray, but I'm still afraid of everything, please help me, please".  While asking this he's clinging on to me for dear life, shaking, and crying.  The next day, it's shortness of breath and diahrea before school.  Crying on the way, crying when we get there, crying throughout the day.  I just couldn't help but wonder, how long before the other kids start labelling him?  Right now he's only in the first grade, they are still being kind and he still has friends....but he hasn't participated in recess since November how long will he have any friends?

Anyways, I take meds myself and have suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks for over 20 years.  I think if my parents would have taken me to a therapist, put me on a medication, or even acknowledged there was a problem, I wouldn't have some of the problems I have now.  I have 2 uncles that have panic attacks and my brother has them.  Some of these mental issues are not behavioral and I have to wonder, if we can reprogram how his brain reacts, early enough maybe he can rid himself of these issues.  Also, a lot of teenagers and adults who have anxiety problems that are not treated turn to alcohol and drugs as a form of self medication.  

Thank you for responses and well wishes
Avatar universal
Please don't think ' these meds.' as you call them are any different than others. I grew up in a family that if you took  'those drugs' you were 'crazy'! I had a not so lovely childhood and after the birth of my 3rd child was put on something finally. How I wish I had been sooner. Life is so much more worth living and my family has come around. No need to be reluctant to help your problem, after all if we have heart diesese or diabietic we help that. Good Luck.
Avatar universal
We are currently going through this with my 6 year old son. He has aspergers sensory processing disorder anxiety depression ocd and adhd. He has daily panic attacks he hyperventilate breaks out in hives will rock and eventually throw up if he can't calm down. Seems everything is causing it these days. The doctor want a to put him on the same thing  
Oops sorry for typos didn't realize until after I commented lol
Avatar universal
I don't think this is a good idea. And often an anxious mom makes an anxious kid--some of it is biological/genetic/physical and some of it is learned behavior. His anxiety seems extreme, and sounds like a reaction perhaps to something going on in the family, in his environment, or maybe some type of abuse. This type of nighttime terror could indicate some trauma or PTSD that you may not be aware of.

Keep him in therapy, and go to family therapy for yourself and everyone else in the family. Behaviors like this are often about family systems, not about individuals.
By the way, drugs like this can impact brain development at this very early age. I really would stay away from any meds for such a young child.
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