Antidepressant drugs do not improve well-being in children and adolescents

July 7, 2014

In an article published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics the effects of antidepressant drugs on well-being in children and adolescents are analyze.

Recent meta-analyses of the efficacy of second-generation for youth have concluded that such drugs possess a statistically significant advantage over placebo in terms of clinician-rated . However, no meta-analysis has included measures of quality of life, global mental health, , or autonomy.

Further, prior meta-analyses have not included self-reports of depressive symptoms. Studies were selected through searching Medline, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Central Register for Controlled Trials databases as well as GlaxoSmithKline's online trial registry, including self-reports of depressive symptoms and pooled measures of quality of life, global mental health, self-esteem, and autonomous functioning as a proxy for overall well-being.

Result showed a nonsignificant difference between second-generation antidepressants and placebo in terms of self-reported depressive symptoms. Further, pooled across measures of quality of life, global mental health, self-esteem, and autonomy, antidepressants yielded no significant advantage over placebo.

Even though limited by a small number of trials, this analysis suggests that antidepressants offer little to no benefit in improving overall well-being among depressed children and adolescents.

Explore further: Antidepressant-suicide link in youths absent in new analysis

More information: Spielmans GI, Gerwig K. The Efficacy of Antidepressants on Overall Well-Being and Self-Reported Depression Symptom Severity in Youth: A Meta-Analysis. Psychother Psychosom 2014;83:158-164 . DOI: 10.1159/000356191

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