New Study Claims Antidepressants Are More Harmful Than We Thought, M8s


A thought-provoking new study claims the prescription of a large number of antidepressants to teens and children is ineffective at best, and detrimental at worst. 
Drawing the results of 34 clinical trials covering over young 5,000 subjects, it found 13 out of 14 tested antidepressants may actually have adverse affects on young people suffering major depression; venlafaxine – commonly branded as Effexor in Australia – was even found to increase suicidal thoughts when compared to a placebo treatment. 
The UK study’s authors posit the risks of treatments including paroxetine, sertraline, and citalopram may be under-appreciated, due to the possibility of limited, positively-skewed research.
The study’s authors write “the balance of risks and benefits of antidepressants for the treatment of major depression does not seem to offer a clear advantage in children or teenagers”.
Only fluoxetine – commonly branded as Prozac – was found to have net benefits in the reports assessed; even then, Oxford University psychiatrist Associate Professor Andrea Cipriani wrote that positive outlook may have been prompted by small sample sizes. 
These findings come as prescriptions for antidepressants and antipsychotics for Australia’s youth have increased dramatically in recent years. 
A 2014 study from the University of Sydney found the number of children aged 10 – 14 prescribed some form of antidepressant rose by a third in the three years prior. Those figures have risen in the general community, too.
In a report corresponding with the new study, child psychiatrist at the University of Adelaide Jon Jureidini said “for antidepressants in adolescents, this equation will rarely favour prescribing; in younger children, almost never.”

While Jureidini asserted “there is little reason to think that any antidepressant is better than nothing for young people,” 2005 advice from the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Physicians states “not treating depression is more likely to result in harm than appropriate use of antidepressants”.

As early as 2012, Headspace released resources detailing how the usage of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) including fluoxetine should be very, very closely monitored in light of conflicting clinical trials. 
They state “irrespective of the treatment chosen, it is essential that there is close monitoring of the young person’s symptoms, and any side effects if medication is prescribed. 

This also helps to form… 

the basis of ongoing collaborative discussions

. about further treatment options for those who do not respond to initial treatment.”

So, as always, if you have any questions about treatments or the side effects they may have, contact your physician or mental healthcare practitioner. Mental health is complicated, but studies like this prove how bloody dedicated the medical community is to getting it right. 

Source: Brisbane Times / ABC / Headspace. 
Photo: Jon Raedle / Getty.