Current Opinion

Drug Safety

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 275-282

First online:

How do we Safely Treat Depression in Children, Adolescents and Young Adults?

  • Jon JureidiniAffiliated withDepartment of Psychological Medicine, Children’s, Youth and Women’s Health Service, Women’s and Children’s HospitalDisciplines of Psychiatry and Paediatrics, University of AdelaideDepartment of Philosophy, Flinders University Email author 

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Increasing concerns about the safety and efficacy of antidepressant drugs for children, adolescents and young adults have been countered by claims that reduced prescribing of antidepressants may have dangerous consequences. This leaves clinicians unsure as to how to weigh up the evidence and apply it to their patients. This paper promotes an approach of evaluating the evidence in each study according to the importance of the outcomes being measured in that study. It finds that on important measures such as mortality, hospitalization and quality of life, the evidence is unfavourable for antidepressants in this population. Here, an approach is suggested that primary care physicians might adopt with their depressed young patients. Through a combination of ‘watchful waiting’ and physical and emotional rehabilitation, physicians can actively intervene without reliance on medication or psychotherapy.