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J Sch Nurs. 2005 Dec;21(6):318-22.

The use of antidepressants in school-age children.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacy Practice, Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy, Downers Grove, IL, USA.


Approximately 5% of the pediatric population suffers from depression. Children suffering from depression should be treated first with some type of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, and/or education. Pharmacotherapy (medications) should be used only as a last resort for those children suffering from severe, chronic, or recurring depression. The only antidepressant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of depression in children is fluoxetine (Prozac), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. In the school setting, children should be monitored closely upon the initiation of antidepressant therapy and changes in dosing or medication. They also should be monitored for side effects of the medication, response to therapy, and new signs of depression or worsening symptoms. After starting an antidepressant, children must be monitored closely for any changes in behavior, especially increased preoccupation with suicide. Any changes should be reported to the physician immediately for follow-up.

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