Antidepressants' Benefits to Teens and Children Outweigh Any Risks
> 4/19/2007 12:54:50 PM

In the continuing PR ping-pong match about the safety of antidepressant prescriptions for teens and children, those who support the use of medications as part of a well rounded treatment regimen have scored a decisive point. Several media outlets reported yesterday on a study that appeared in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association. The report used information from 27 different studies that looked at efficacy of antidepressant use for pediatric clients, to conclude that the benefits from using antidepressants far outweigh any potential risks. One of the co-authors of the report made as much clear to the AP:

"The medications are safe and effective and should be considered as an important part of treatment," said study co-author Dr. David Brent of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "The benefits seem favorable compared to the small risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior."

The JAMA report found a smaller number of children, about one per every hundred, were effected by increased suicidality than did earlier work done by the FDA. Writing in the abstract the team called the benefits of antidepressant use "much greater" than the risks of suicidality. The team also found that antidepressants were more effective in treating anxiety disorders than for depression, although results varied across ages, medications and disorders.

Our skepticism of the FDA's warnings have been well documented, as has our opposition to any warnings that would deter prescriptions of potentially valuable medication options, making this new information encouraging even if it's not surprising. If medications are used under supervision of a doctor or therapist, they can be extremely helpful for children and young adults, and the incredibly small risk of increased suicidality represents a disproportionately large deterrent due to a fear of death. As long as antidepressants are used only as a part of the treatment process, they will continue to help many suffering from psychological disorders.

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