Antidepressants commonly prescribed for children could double the risk of aggression and suicide.
Researchers looked at 68 clinical study reports involving 18,526 patients.
They found that children were at an increased risk when they took antidepressants.
Modern antidepressants are typically SSRIs or the variant SNRIs.
SSRIs are marketed under brand names including Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.
SNRIs are marketed under brand names including Effexor and Cymbalta.
Even the doubling in risk could be an underestimate, the study’s authors explain:
“The true risk for serious harms is still unknown [because] the low incidence of these rare events, and the poor design and reporting of the trials, makes it difficult to get accurate effect estimates.”
There was no link, though, between taking the drugs and aggression and suicide in adults.
The study’s authors recommend:
“Minimal use of antidepressants in children, adolescents and young adults, as the serious harms seem to be greater, and as their effect seems to be below what is clinically relevant.”
The study was published in the journal BMJ (Sharma et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Child pill image from Shutterstock