PITTSBURGH, April 17 -- Antidepressants are safe and effective for treating anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and major depressive disorder in children and adolescents, according to a meta-analysis of 27 major studies. The findings, published by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers in this weeks Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), call into question the controversial "black box" warnings placed on the drugs by the Food and Drug Administration, which say that antidepressant medications pose a small but significantly increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for children and adolescents.
"As clinicians, our first concern is for the health and safety of our patients. When the FDA placed the black box warning on antidepressants, it raised a great deal of concern about how we were to treat our young patients who we thought could possibly benefit from antidepressant therapy. Most clinicians, patients and their families found themselves questioning whether or not they should be using treatments out of fear of the risks," said David A. Brent, M.D., professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "By combining data from most of the significant studies of antidepressant use in adolescents and children, weve been able to examine a balance of benefits and risks of these medications.
"Antidepressants are safe and effective for treating disorders like anxiety, OCD and depression in children and adolescents," Dr. Brent continued. "While there is a small, increased risk of suicidal thoughts in those who use antidepressants, it would be much, much riskier to not treat these children and adolescents dealing with these disorders."
For this study, the University of Pittsburgh researchers extracted data on study characteristics, efficacy outcomes and emergent suicidal events from 27 trials of second-generation antidepressants used to treat pediatric major depressive disorder,
Contact: Jocelyn Uhl Duffy
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences