Are SSRIs effective as a first-line medication in adolescents with major depressive disorder (clinical depression)?

Updated: Aug 06, 2020
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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The use of SSRIs as first-line medications in pediatric patients is supported by reports that these agents are effective in this population and have a relatively safe adverse-effect profile and very low lethality after overdose; in addition, SSRIs offer the convenience of once-daily administration. Several studies have reported a 70-90% response rate to SSRIs in adolescents with major depressive disorder. [181, 182, 183]

Children and adolescents with major depressive disorder responded significantly more frequently to fluoxetine (58%) than to placebo (32%), according to Emslie et al in an 8-week double-blind study. [184] However, only 31% of children achieved full remission. A possible explanation for the partial response in these young patients is that the effective treatment may involve variation in dose or length of treatment. Also, the ideal treatment likely involves a combination of pharmacologic and psychosocial interventions.

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