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Studies: Antidepressants do not bring clear benefits to children

Studies: Antidepressants do not bring clear benefits to children


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Study: Only one drug was effective in treating children
There have been discussions for a long time about whether the currently available antidepressants can really help children with severe mental health problems effectively. Researchers have now found that out of fourteen antidepressants tested, only one was more effective than traditional placebos when it came to relieving severe depression in children.

The effectiveness of some medications can be disputed. This is also the case with antidepressants for children, for example. Physicians have long doubted that these drugs are really helpful in treating children. Scientists from internationally recognized Oxford University recently found in a study that out of fourteen antidepressants tested, only one was effective. The experts issued a press release on their study results and also published it in the specialist journal "The Lancet".

Only one of fourteen drugs classified as effective
If children are suffering from severe depression, they urgently need professional help. Therapy and medication are supposed to help affected adolescents to better control their disease or even to defeat it entirely. Unfortunately, many medications don't seem to be really effective. Of fourteen antidepressants tested

only one drug was found to be helpful, the scientists say. The remaining thirteen drugs were no more effective than placebos administered. One of these drugs (venlafaxine) has even been linked to an increased risk of suicide attempts, the authors say. Another suicide study found that children's suicide risk increases significantly with antidepressants.

Many studies are poorly structured or are financed by pharmaceutical companies
So far, it has been unclear whether antidepressants are really effective in children and adolescents. The actual effectiveness and safety of antidepressants in children and adolescents has not yet been clarified, because most studies on this topic are poorly structured. In addition, the authors emphasize that there is a selective reporting of studies, which were mostly financed by pharmaceutical companies. Close monitoring of young people using antidepressants is necessary, regardless of what medication they are taking. The researchers advise that the effects of the medication should be closely monitored, especially at the start of treatment.

Three percent of children under the age of twelve suffer from depression
The balance of risks and benefits of antidepressants for the treatment of severe depression does not appear to offer a clear advantage in children and adolescents. Fluoxetine could be the only exception, explains author Peng Xie. Depression affects about three percent of children ages six to 12. In adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18, the figure is as high as six percent, explains the doctor.

The number of children taking antidepressants is growing
The number of young people taking antidepressants increased massively between 2005 and 2012, both in the United States and in the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, the proportion of children and adolescents taking antidepressants has increased from 0.7 percent to 1.1 percent, the experts say.

A drug increases the risk of suicide attempts
For their study, the researchers analyzed the data from 34 studies with 5260 participants. These had an average age of nine to 18 years, the researchers explain. Only fluoxetine showed real advantages in terms of effectiveness and tolerability. The drug nortriptyline was less effective than seven other drugs and placebo, imipramine, venlafaxine and duloxetine were all very poorly tolerated. Compared to placebo and five other drugs, venlafaxine has even been linked to an increased risk of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts, the authors warn.

There is a lack of reliable data on the subject
Due to a lack of reliable data, it was not possible to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the risk of suicide for all drugs. Pharmaceutical companies funded 65 percent of all studies, the doctors say. Ten studies appeared to be at high risk of bias, while twenty other studies were rated as “moderate”. The British lead author Dr. Andrea Cipriani of Oxford University says: Without access to individual data, it is difficult to get precise assessments of the effects. (as)

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