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Young turn to pills as psychiatric care queues lengthen

Finnish young people have doubled their use of anti-depressants over the last decade, partly because of difficulties in obtaining psychiatric care.

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Image: Yle

More than 30,000 young Finns are prescribed mood-altering drugs. Experts say long queues to see specialist doctors are causing people to turn to selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, medication collectively known as SSRIs.

Critics claim anti-depressants have serious side effects, including increased aggression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the possible side effects, 10,000 under-19s and more than 20,000 20-24-year-olds take SSRIs in Finland.

Mauri Marttunen, professor of youth psychiatry at Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district, says that it can take weeks or even months to get an appointment with a psychiatrist.

According to Marttunen, mild depression should not be treated with medication, and young people with depression should not be left alone with just medication to alleviate symptoms.

Finland's medical watchdog, however, says concerns over side effects are unsubstantiated, and that warnings given with the medication are sufficient.

Sources: Yle

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