Study: Child Antidepressant Use Down
But Decline Corresponds With Suicide Increase
WebMD News Archive
16% Decline in 6 Months continued...
Prescriptions declined by 5% during the first quarter of 2004 and 11% in the
second quarter of 2004. Rates stabilized after July and have just begun to move
upward, according to study co-author Elisa Cascade, MBA, vice president of
The researchers also confirmed a shift away from generalized care and toward
more specialized care by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals
for depressed patients 18 and younger.
While this sounds like a good thing, it may mean fewer depressed kids and
teens are being treated because of a shortage of pediatric psychiatrists,
“Anytime there are safety issues associated with a medication, primary care
physicians are going to be less confident about prescribing that medication,”
If generalists are referring young patients to specialists but there aren’t
enough specialists to go around, that could mean patients get no care at all,
The study is published in the April issue of the journal Archives of
18% Rise in Suicides
Just two months ago, the CDC reported that suicide rates among children and
teens rose by more than 18% during 2004.
David Shern, PhD, president of the patient advocacy group Mental Health
America, tells WebMD that the 2004 FDA hearings did not include enough
discussion about the dangers of failing to prescribe antidepressants to
depressed children and adolescents.
Now we see an increase in suicides following years of declines,” he says.
“We are not in the position to draw causal inferences, but this gives us good
reason to pause and be concerned.”