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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2004 Spring;14(1):19-31.

Pharmacological treatment of adolescent major depression.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, CIIU Pitié-Salpétrière, Paris, France.


Antidepressant agents are widely prescribed for adolescents, although specific data regarding their efficacy in this age range are limited. The aims of the present article are to review research findings regarding the use of antidepressant drugs for adolescent depression and to discuss the main results in light of our clinical experience. Only 13 controlled trials on the use of antidepressant drugs for adolescent major depression are available in the literature. Six studies evaluated the efficacy of tricyclic antidepressants, yet they only included 196 adolescents altogether. Seven studies, including a total of 1,403 patients, evaluated the efficacy of three specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors: fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline. Based on published data, serotonin reuptake inhibitors appear to be the first-line psychopharmacologic treatment for adolescent depression, as three compounds (fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline) appeared to be effective in this indication. Conversely, all published studies failed to demonstrate that the tricyclic antidepressants were superior to placebo. Several questions remain open and are discussed: How should we use available scientific data in clinical practice? Are there nonspecific factors implicated in treatment response? Is there a serotonin hypothesis for juvenile depression? What are the priorities for future research?

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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