Resources for Medical Professionals

Anti-depressants & Children (The issue of increased thoughts of suicide.)

Meta-Analysis of Antidepressants in Pediatric Practice Finds Benefits Outweigh Risks

The benefits of antidepressants for treating children and adolescents outweigh the increased risks for suicidality associated with the drugs, a meta-analysis in JAMA concludes.

The authors examined data in 27 randomized, placebo-controlled studies that included patients younger than 19. (Seven of the studies were not included when the FDA analyzed the literature and called for a boxed warning on antidepressants given to young people.)

The new analysis finds the drugs effective; in non-OCD anxiety disorders, the number needed to treat to produce a clinical response was 3; in obsessive-compulsive disorder the NNT was 6; and in major depressive disorder, 10. Overall, the number needed to produce suicidal ideation or an attempt was 143. There were no completed suicides.

The authors write that the analysis “supports the cautious and well-monitored use of antidepressant medications as one of the first-line treatment options” for children and adolescents.

JAMA 2007; 297:1683-1696