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Tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: use during pregnancy, in children/adolescents and in the elderly.

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  • 1The University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, USA.



Depressive disorders can occur at any point in the lifespan. One way of differentiating antidepressants is by examining their efficacy and safety in the special patient populations that exist along the lifespan. Thus, we examine clinical data that is available regarding the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) at three distinct points in the lifespan: childhood and adolescence, pregnancy and late adulthood.


Literature regarding the use of antidepressants in children and adolescents, pregnancy and the elderly was reviewed.


Clinical data suggest that SSRIs should be first line treatment in children and adolescents as TCAs have questionable efficacy and definite safety issues. Similarly, although TCAs and SSRIs show equivalent efficacy in elderly patients, the safety profile of the SSRIs makes them a more prudent choice in this population. Finally, although there is no definitive data that contraindicates the use of a particular antidepressant in pregnancy, the bulk of reassuring pregnancy outcome data exists for the SSRIs, specifically for fluoxetine.


Although no single antidepressant can ever be recommended for every patient, SSRIs should be considered the first-line choice in the treatment of depression in special patient populations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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