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Study Supports Pediatric Antidepressant Treatment

Researchers find that benefits outweigh risks, including an insignificant risk of suicidal ideation

TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Antidepressant treatment is associated with more benefits than risks in children and adolescents with depression and anxiety disorders, and the increased risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts is statistically insignificant, according to a meta-analysis in the April 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jeffrey A. Bridge, Ph.D., of Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials of antidepressants for major depressive disorder, six for obsessive compulsive disorder, and six for non-OCD anxiety disorders.

The researchers found evidence supporting the efficacy of antidepressants in all three disorders. Although they identified an increased risk of 0.7 percent for suicidal ideation/suicide attempt in patients taking antidepressants compared to those taking placebo, they found that the pooled risk differences (0.9 percent for major depressive disorder, 0.5 percent for obsessive compulsive disorder and 0.7 percent for non-OCD anxiety disorders) were not significant.

"Some may argue that any risk of suicidal ideation/suicide attempt cannot possibly justify treatment with antidepressants for children and adolescents," the authors concluded. "Instead, we believe that the strength of evidence presented here supports the cautious and well-monitored use of antidepressant medications as one of the first-line treatment options, with the recognition that efficacy appears greatest for non-OCD anxiety disorders, intermediate for OCD, and more modest for major depressive disorder."

The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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