The majority of antidepressants taken by children are ineffective. In some cases the drug is harmful. This is the conclusion of a major study. General Practitioners tend to give out antidepressant drugs for children too readily. They tend to give out antibiotics too readily as well. The same, with respect to antibiotics, can be said about veterinarians.
As for drugs for anxiety and depression, I would have thought that veterinarians infrequently prescribe them for cat mental health issues. I hope so. However, my argument is that they should not prescribe them at all.
The first reason is set out in the title to this article. A study has found that antidepressants almost invariably don’t work on children. The study, published in The Lancet said:
“The balance of risks and benefits of antidepressants for the treatment of major depression does not seem to offer a clear advantage in children and teenagers.”
Of the fourteen drugs most commonly prescribed to young people with depression only one was more effective than a placebo. A terrible conclusion because it means that lots of kids are being chemically coshed for no good reason. Only one, Prozac, had any real impact. But Prozac can result in serious side-effects including suicide and self harm or aggression.
Is there a connection between children cats? Do they respond to antidepressants in the same way? I don’t know and nor do veterinarians. What I do know is that if a veterinarian prescribes an antidepressant for a cat, how is he to know with certainty that the cat is depressed or anxious? In addition, how is he to know with certainty the effect upon the mental health and state of the cat after the cat has been on the drug? How does a vet assess the entire process accurately? He’ll probably depend on the cat’s owner who may or may not be able to assess accurately and intelligently what is happening.
How are veterinarians to know the success rate in prescribing antidepressants for cats or any other mood enhancing type drug for cats? Where is the evidence? Have studied be done? You can’t ask a cat how he/she feels. I don’t believe you can assess a cat as being suitable for antidepressants. How does a cat owner and/or veterinarian assess a cat as being in need of antidepressants?
A cat might be timid and fearful. Or he may be very quiet and reclusive. Is the cat anxious and depressed? No one can tell. He may be bullied by another cat. Or there may be numerous other reasons why a cat demonstrates this behavior other than because of depression or anxiety.
The study on children indicates that antidepressants have a very limited value in treating depression and anxiety in children. My argument would be that this raises doubt in my mind as to whether the same sort of results would come out of a study on cats if it was possible to carry out such a study (which is not).
If there is considerable doubt as to the effectiveness of antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs or mood enhancing drugs for cats then they should not be given to cats. A proper veterinarian should only dispense drugs to a cat when he knows that there will be a benefit in health. To not do that would be negligent. A veterinarian cannot take risks with the mental health of a domestic cat companion. It would be unprofessional to do so. However, I suspect that on many occasions vets are behaving unprofessionally in this difficult area of mood enhancing drugs for our feline friends.