Antidepressants and Autism: Time to Worry?

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January 29, 2014 | 4 Comments


  1. I read this and many other articles about ssri use in pregnancy and I tend to really wonder if the problems not only occur in babies in the womb but also when you give a child or teen these drugs if the same type of alterations in the brain that is still developing and learning can happen. What I mean to say is can it not also make the same type of changes in a childs developing brain as well….

  2. We can hypothesize ad infinitum ..there is a genetic factor in ASD and possibly also possibly in utero encephalitis (any neurotropic virus would probably suffice ) at a critical devptl stage. We often use SSRIs in ASD kids and they can change from internalising behavioural problem children to happy and sociable success stories. In the new age of post patent medication it is now time to get off this ‘anti industry’ bandwagon. It is a turnoff for genuine debate. We need more non aligned moderators like agent 98.

  3. My daughter has severe autism.
    Back in 2006, I had been on an antidepressant for 9 years for anxiety. When planning to get pregnant I discussed the risks with my psychiatrist. We talked about the risk and decided that it would be best to wean off the medication when I got pregnant. I thought this was a little off – wouldn’t it be a good idea to wean off the medication before getting pregnant?. He reassured me that “it won’t be a problem,” that the happy hormones from being pregnant would protect me from depression (which of course isn’t true). By weaning off, the doctor meant tapering off in 2 weeks. I had horrible withdrawal symptoms which the doctor misread it as a relapse. The doctor put me back on the SSRI and then added an antipsychotic and later on another one when the first one didn’t seem to work. I questioned the antipsychotics because I would pace for hours on end and go 2 to 3 days without sleep, and have leg tremors. I wanted to try again and slowly wean off the medications but was scolded by the doctor and sent to a mental institution at 26 weeks pregnant where I was forced to continue taking antipsychotics and they added benzodiazepines.
    By the time my daughter was born I was a total mess and unable to care for her. My family did take really good caring of her but I did not form an attachment until she was about a year old. Autism is a very bad disorder that causes multiple health issues so you end up treating multiple conditions in addition to the autism itself. The life savings and the career I lost can be replaced. But my daughter’s future is ruined. My movement disorder is permanent for which I rely on Parkinson’s medication.
    Needless to say, when doctors suggest to me that my daughter be put on stimulants, antidepressants and antipsychotics (which many parents are getting talked into to control behavior) I get really upset. I spend thousands of dollars on behavioral therapy instead of drugs but its very expensive and many parents just can’t afford it. I barely can. I can see how parents get talked into the drugs. It’s so much cheaper to prescribe a medication on the $4 generic list than for insurance companies to pay for therapy. Sadly, antipsychotics are widely prescribed to autistic children and when agitation and other side effects occur the child is often blamed for behaving badly. Oftentimes, the response is to increase the medication. Keep in mind that because children with autism have difficulty communicating, many of them can’t talk to the parent or the doctor that the side effect is bothersome.

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