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Doctor gives anti depressants to 4 yr old girl

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Girl, 4, who is so sad she may need anti-depressants

Last updated at 23:57pm on 7th November 2006

A girl of four is being treated for stress and depression after she was refused a place at her local school.

Mollie Murphy became so distraught at being separated from her best friends that she had to see a doctor.

Last night, the youngster's mother spoke of her shock after the GP said he would consider a course of anti-depressants and counselling if Mollie's condition does not improve.

"When he said she had stress and depression at first I thought he must be joking," said 26-year-old hairdresser Victoria Anderson.

"I thought, how can a little girl suffer from that? It's an adult's problem and Mollie's only four. But he told me it does happen."

Although the number of children suffering from depression remains relatively low, experts claim the rate has dramatically increased in recent years.

According to research by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, as many as 40,000 children and adolescents were prescribed anti-depressants in 2003.

Miss Anderson said her daughter started experiencing problems in September.

Due to a lack of places available at East Herrington Primary, in Sunderland, she was forced to travel to nearby Farringdon school.

Since then she has suffered from bouts of vomiting. She also regularly wets the bed and refuses to go to school at the start of each day.

"She had been with all her friends for a year at nursery and wanted to stay with them," said Miss Anderson.

"She screams and cries when I drop her off and is very quiet in class and clings to the teacher. She began to get really, really unhappy - to the point where she would make herself physically sick.

"I was so worried I took her straight to the doctor who made his diagnosis."

Despite a letter from GP Kevin Weaver recommending Mollie be reunited with her friends, local education officials refuse to change their mind. Dr Weaver, 49, defended his decision to consider prescribing anti-depressants to Mollie.

The GP, who has been practising for 24 years, said: "It would be highly unusual, I agree, but not unheard of.

"We try a variety of psychological therapies first but won't rule out anti-depressants even in a child of four years old.

"We get these types of cases every once and a while.

"It's quite different to depression in adults in so far as with children it manifests itself in physical symptoms like bed wetting or headaches whereas with adults it is more of a psychological illness."

Miss Anderson, who has two other children - Nell, two and seven-month-old Will - said she and partner David Murphy were now considering removing Mollie from the school to wait for next year's intake.

Sunderland City Council said it would not reconsider its decision but Mollie's family could take their case to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Last night, the Association for Family Therapy said it had 'serious concerns' about a four-year-old being prescribed antidepressants.

Chairman Barbara Warner said: "Research clearly tells us that supporting the family as a whole and helping the child can be far more effective and doesn't have the dangers of sideeffects or the child being seen as the focus of a problem."

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