The use of antidepressants with children and adolescents is not well supported in the literature

Studies continue to be done trying to figure out whether to use antidepressants with children and adolescents and, if so, which specific antidepressant to use. That was the main question in the recent network meta-analysis conducted by lead researchers, Andrea Cipriani, PhD, associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, United Kingdom and Xinyu Zhou, Ph.D., Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China.

They compared various studies (34 trials were eligible for inclusion) with 14 of the antidepressants in use today with a total number of over 5200 participants. They looked at symptom relief as well as discontinuation due to adverse effects.

The conclusion remains that there is no significant benefit to using antidepressants in this population. The only drug that had a marginally better than placebo effect was Fluoxetine and but these researchers suggest that their positive finding may not be as robust when considering some of the inherent difficulties with the studies they included in the meta-analysis.

More than six million kids are on antidepressants in the U.S., despite the lack of evidence for their safety or efficacy. Doesn’t prevention seem a better focus?

Reference: Published online June 8, 2016 in The Lancet.

Comparative efficacy and tolerability of antidepressants for major depressive disorder in children and adolescents: a network meta-analysis