for antidepressant medications tripled in the U.S. between
1988 and 1998. Antidepressants are used to treat a wide range
of disorders in adults - and children, despite few studies
that support their safe and effective use in younger individuals.
To determine trends in antidepressant use in children and
adolescents from 1988-1994, the authors of this study in the
journal Pediatrics reviewed the records of over 800,000
youths in three health organizations: a group health maintenance
organization (HMO) in the northwestern U.S.; Midwestern Medicaid
(MWM); and Mid-Atlantic Medicaid (MAM). In the 2- to 19-year-old
children, antidepressant use was defined as a prescription
claim for the drugs during the previous year.
Information gathered from all three organizations showed
an increase in antidepressant treatment. Over the seven-year
period, the HMO, MWM, and MAM saw increases in pediatric antidepressant
prescriptions of 3.6 times, 2.9 times, and 4.6 times, respectively.
Over half of the antidepressant prescriptions in this period
were prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD). Use of antidepressants was highest in boys in the
10- to 14-year-old range and girls in the 15- to 19-year-old
Avoid any medication that hasn't been clearly proven to be
safe and effective, and always talk to your doctor about the
benefits and risks before filling a prescription.
Zito JM, Safer DJ, dosReis S, et al. Rising prevalence of
antidepressants among US youths. Pediatrics 2002:109(5),
For more consumer safety information, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/general/consumer/index.html.