ANTIDEPRESSANTS: BENEFITS FOR CHILDREN OUTWEIGH RISKS, REPORT FINDS

November 30, 2005

The benefits of antidepressant treatments for children outweigh the risks, according to a report released by an American College of Neuropsychopharmacology task force.

The findings come a year after the Food and Drug Administration issued strict warnings to doctors about prescribing antidepressants to children, a move that followed two years of controversy over reports that the drugs increased suicides and suicidal thoughts.

According to the researchers:

  • Doctors should be more careful when prescribing antidepressants but physicians should continue treating young patients with antidepressants.
  • The drug Prozac is especially beneficial, and is the only antidepressant approved for treating children.

John Mann, a co-chair of the task force and chief of neuroscience at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, said, "The idea that antidepressants are responsible for suicides isn't supported by the data. But we're not saying there's data out there guaranteeing the safety of these medications either. We are saying that doctors should be careful because they're treating a condition - depression -- which is the third-leading cause of death among youngsters."

However, Joseph Glenmullen, a Harvard Medical School psychiatry instructor, said, "Just because a drug has FDA approval doesn't mean it's the right thing, unless a child has had a full work-up, preferably by a child psychiatrist."

Source: Ed Silverman, "Newark Star-Ledger," November 24, 2005.

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