Antidepressants, found ineffective for children, may be harmful

Published in a prestigious medical journal, the findings had serious risk implications. The use of some antidepressants is found ineffective while some of them may even be harmful for children and teens.

Including suicide attempts, an Australian psychiatrist warned people against the effects of antidepressants as the use of it continues to rise. Only one drug fluoxetine or Prozac, was found more effective at relieving depression than a placebo. Among 13 out of 14 antidepressants prescribed to children and teenagers, with only fluoxetine (Prozac) well tolerated, the analysis of 34 clinical trials involving 5260 patients found.

The study reviewed 34 trials with more than 5,000 participants aged between nine and 18 and it is found that only in the case of fluoxetine did benefits outweigh risks in terms of efficacy and tolerability.

Nortriptyline was less effective than seven other drugs and placebo, while imipramine, venlafaxine and duloxetine were the least well tolerated. Compared with placebo and five other drugs, venlafaxine was linked to an increased risk of suicidal attempts or suicidal thoughts. Due to a lack of reliable data, the researchers said it was not possible to carry out a comprehensive analysis of "suicidility risk" for all drugs.

The study authors recommend that "children and adolescents taking antidepressants be carefully monitored closely, regardless of the antidepressant chosen, particularly at the beginning of treatment". Major depression is common in these age groups, with around 3 per cent of children and 6 per cent of adolescents reporting depressive symptoms.

Highland County Press -
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