Doctors may have to prescribe antidepressants to teens and young adults with depressive symptoms but a new study highlights the risks of giving high doses of these medications to kids.
In a new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine April 28, researchers followed more than 162,000 individuals between 10 to 64 years old who were diagnosed with depression and started to take a type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, which includes Zoloft, Celexa and Prozac.
The researchers observed that the participants of the study who were 24 years old and younger who were given higher than recommended doses of antidepressants at the start of their treatment were twice likely to deliberately hurt themselves within a year after they started taking their medications than participants of the same age group who were given standard doses.
Older participants, who were between 25 to 64 years old, on the other hand, did not exhibit increased suicidal tendencies when given higher dose of antidepressant suggesting risks of giving high dose of the medication to younger patients.
"If I were a parent, I definitely wouldn't want my child to start on a higher dose of these drugs," study researcher Matthew Miller, from the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard School of Public Health, told HealthDay.
Although the findings of the study suggest of the risks of giving high doses of antidepressants to kids, Irene Petersen, from the Department of Primary Care and Population Health at the University College London, said that it was likely that the young patients who require high doses of antidepressants had more serious problems than those who were given the standard dose.
Still, the researchers urged doctors to be cautious when prescribing high doses of antidepressant drugs to teenagers and young adults.
"Our findings offer clinicians an additional incentive to avoid initiating pharmacotherapy at high-therapeutic doses and to closely monitor patients starting antidepressants, especially youth, for several months," the researchers wrote.
Based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for 2005-2008, about one in 10 Americans who are at least 12 years old take antidepressant medications. Antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, and Lexapro are among the most prescribed drugs in the U.S.