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Antidepressants and youth: Healing or harmful?

Sara Markowitz () and Alison Cuellar

Social Science & Medicine, 2007, vol. 64, issue 10, 2138-2151

Abstract: A series of drug innovations that began in 1987, including the introduction of several selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), has led to a tremendous growth in the use of antidepressants in the United States. This growth, however, has been accompanied by a growing concern about the risks of prescribing antidepressants, particularly to children. Indeed, research linking the use of antidepressant drugs to an increased risk of suicidal behaviors in youth motivated the US Food and Drug Administration to direct antidepressant drug manufacturers to include warning labels about the potential dangers. This paper examines the relationship between antidepressants and suicide among youth in the USA. Using state-level data on youth suicides and age-specific prescriptions for antidepressants, we find no relationships between suicides for adolescents aged 15-19 and prescriptions for SSRIs/serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants. In contrast, we find that newer generation antidepressants are associated with lower numbers of suicides for this age group. For younger children aged 10-14, we find no relationship with suicides for any type of antidepressant.

Keywords: United; States; Antidepressants; Suicides; Youth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:64:y:2007:i:10:p:2138-2151