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Efficacy and safety of antidepressant drug treatment in children and adolescents

Abstract

Depression and anxiety are common disorders in youth that can have profound influences on functioning and even mortality. In the late 1990s, large controlled trials began demonstrating the efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for these conditions in the pediatric population. By 2003, regulatory agencies began warning the public of unrecognized risk and misrepresented benefit. The current review article summarizes a series of published and unpublished efficacy and safety data regarding antidepressant use in children and adolescents. The resulting complex synthesis suggests that these medications may offer mild-to-moderate benefit, with notable exceptions depending on medication and indication, but they may also heighten the risk for suicidal ideation and parasuicidal behavior. However, reviewed epidemiological data does not demonstrate a relationship between newer antidepressant prescription and completed suicide in large populations of youth. In conclusion, this breadth of mixed research data is applied to clinical decision making.

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Henry, A., Kisicki, M. & Varley, C. Efficacy and safety of antidepressant drug treatment in children and adolescents. Mol Psychiatry 17, 1186–1193 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2011.150

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Keywords

  • antidepressants
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • pediatric
  • suicide

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