Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in pediatric depression: Is the balance between benefits and risks favorable?

Christopher J. Kratochvil, Benedetto Vitiello, John Walkup, Graham Emslie, Bruce D. Waslick, Elizabeth B. Weller, William J. Burke, John S. March

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Recent controversies surrounding the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have highlighted the need to reassess potential benefits, as well as potential risks of this class of medications in the treatment of pediatric depression. The recent availability of data from meta-analyses of published and unpublished antidepressant trials, epidemiological studies, and the Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS) has facilitated a reanalysis of this risk/benefit relationship. Despite reviewing similar data, various regulatory agencies have arrived at rather disparate conclusions regarding the data, resulting in continued controversy. Although all groups appear to agree that careful assessment, education regarding risks, and closer monitoring are essential for SSRIs, only the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.K. Medicine and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency maintain that an acceptable risk/benefit relationship exists for fluoxetine. The European Medicines Agency concluded that the SSRIs should not be used in the treatment of depression in children and adolescents. The authors of this review have taken into consideration many of these same data and offer a critical discussion of the pros and cons of SSRIs in pediatric depression. The authors have concluded that SSRIs-in particular, fluoxetine-do have a role in the treatment of pediatric depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-24
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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