A mother has claimed her 7-year-old daughter developed an eerie fascination with death when taking new medication for a range of conditions.
Seren Parker had been diagnosed with ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder and anxiety, and after taking medication to deal with her conditions, became "obsessed" with the question of what happens when we die.
"She would ask 'if I jumped off this bridge now and I died, what would happen? What would happen if I put my hands into the garage door?'" her mother, Susy Parker, told A Current Affair.
"It was constantly questions about death."
Initially, the medication worked. Parker's behaviour calmed down, and simple tasks suddenly became doable.
But it wasn't long before old behaviours came back, and the girl's anxiety once again began to flare. At the same time, she received a further diagnosis of oppositional defiance disorder. She was given Prozac, an antidepressant, to treat it, and her thoughts soon turned dark and she began isolating herself from her parents.
They again sought the concerns of professionals, only to have them dismissed.
A paediatrician then introduced a new medication into the mix. According to a leaflet that the family received, the medication was not supposed to be given to children under the age of 14. Parker was half that age.
The mother told ACA she began researching the cocktail of medications prescribed to her daughter, only to find one in particular was used to sedate violent inmates in Canadian prisons.
"I thought, if that's being given to grown men in prison in Canada, why are you giving it to my child?" she said.
She and her husband decided to wean their daughter off the medication, and instead focused on nutrition and exercise to help her.
They say her focus and her concentration almost healed "overnight". Seren says she's now doing well at school, and her parents say she's "thriving".
"When I got off the medication, I changed completely. My behaviour changed," Seren said.
According to ADHD NZ, the disorder affects 2-5 per cent of Kiwi children.
Child and teenage antidepressant recipients in New Zealand have soared 98 per cent in the last 10 years to a total of nearly 15,000 young people, according to information released in 2017.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.