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Are Antidepressant Drugs Safe for Young People?

Pro and con views on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are debated with starkly different views of research to date

MONDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The question of whether antidepressant drugs are safe and effective treatments for depression in young people was the subject of a "Head to Head" debate in the Oct. 13 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Andrew Cotgrove, clinical director of the Pine Lodge Young People's Centre in Chester, U.K., argued the "Yes" position. He conceded that early publications on the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for treatment of depression in young people tended to underplay the risk of suicide. However, more recent studies have demonstrated that the benefits outweigh the risks, Cotgrove said, and the small degree of risk can be reduced further by careful monitoring.

Sami Timimi, consultant and adolescent psychiatrist, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust, Lincolnshire, U.K., argued the "No" position. Studies have demonstrated that SSRIs are not effective treatments for depression in young people and that they can increase suicidal behavior, he said. Research that claims to demonstrate otherwise, such as the treatment of adolescent depression study (TADs), is flawed, Timimi maintained. Together with marketing pressure, Timimi said, publications have created an unacceptable trend toward acceptability of these drugs, which must be reversed in favor of psychotherapy, which has a well established record of effectiveness.

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