Study reveals preschoolers fastest growing segment to be prescribed anti-depressants
A recent study on the use of antidepressants revealed some alarming results. According to the study, published in Psychiatric Services, a journal published by the American Psychiatric Association, the use of prescribed antidepressants has increased 10% annually among children and adolescents.
The study looked at prescriptions written for approximately 2 million pediatric patients from 1998-2002 and found that 2.4 percent were prescribed antidepressants in 2002, up from 1.6 percent five years earlier which means a 49% increase.
The study also found that the increase was greater for children under five years of age, increasing by 64 %. In this age group use among girls nearly doubled, a 68% increase, while the increase among boys was around 34%.
According to Tom Delate, PhD, Director of Research of Express Scripts that conducted the study, several factors may have led to this increased use of antidepressants including “increasing rates of depression in successive age groups, a growing awareness of and screening for depression by pediatricians and assumptions that the effectiveness experienced by adults using antidepressant medications will translate to children and adolescents.” He recommended that the “safety and efficacy” of these antidepressants be examined more closely and hoped that the results of this study would “add some impetus.”
The growth in anti-depressants prescriptions of juveniles has occurred despite the fact that antidepressants (with the exception of ‘prozac’) have not been approved for children. These findings are significant and come at a time when there is considerable controversy over antidepressants and alleged links to suicidal behavior among children.