New figures have revealed more teenagers across Tayside are being prescribed pills to help them deal with mental health issues.
Statistics obtained using a freedom of information request showed the number of dispensed antidepressants in the 13-18 age group increased by almost 15% over the last three years.
There were 5,836 antidepressant tablets given to 1,677 patients aged between 13-18 in 2017/18 – compared with 5,097 given to 1,562 patients in 2015/16.
The increase is above the Scottish average of 10%.
Experts have linked the rise to waits for specialist mental health services.
Brook Marshall, 26, is project director of Dundee-based mental health charity Feeling Strong.
He was first prescribed antidepressants at the age of 16.
Brook, from City Quay, said: “I was having a tough time in school and had some tough personal family circumstances as well.
“It got to the point where I was struggling to cope day to day. My attendance at school got worse as things started spiralling.
“My mum noticed this and took me to the GP where I was given antidepressants.
“It’s been a long journey since then with trying different ones and to actually get the support needed to get me back on my feet.
“My recovery is still underway but now that I have been getting the support that I need, things are starting to look brighter.”
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines recommend that prescriptions should only be written by a child psychiatrist within child and adolescent mental health services, and not a GP.
It also suggests checking the patients for adverse reactions because, in some cases, antidepressants can trigger thoughts of suicide and self-harm in children.
Brook added: “Some people stop taking medication because it just seems so hopeless.
“I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could turn to – it was a very different world at the time.
“It was quite scary when I first started taking antidepressants. It felt like a gamble and because I wasn’t receiving support such as talking services, it was very difficult to manage that.
“I didn’t know at the time that the GP should have organised a repeat meeting with me in the future but didn’t. I just struggled by myself for a long time.”
After graduating from Abertay University this year, Brook decided to launch youth mental health charity Feeling Strong.
He said: “I was frustrated because I didn’t see the change that I wanted to see so that people like me could be better understood.
“At Feeling Strong, we want to be going into schools to work with kids and using discussion so they can see what good mental health looks like.”
A spokesman for NHS Tayside said: “Antidepressants are a type of medication used to treat clinical depression or prevent it from recurring.
“However, they can also be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions such as chronic pain or anxiety disorders.
“If appropriate for individual patients, antidepressants are prescribed and often used in combination with therapy to treat more severe depression or other mental health conditions caused by emotional distress.
“If young people are not feeling themselves it is important that they seek support by talking to someone they trust, such as their parents, friends, GP or a support service such as The Corner.”