Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Antidepressants up risk of child aggression and suicide

  • Comment

Children and adolescents have a doubled risk of aggression and suicide when taking one of the five most commonly-prescribed antidepressants, according to Danish researchers.

Their research focused on previous trials involving selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

“The true risk for serious harms is still unknown”

Study authors

They noted that the true risk for all associated serious harms – such as deaths, aggression, akathisia and suicidal thoughts and attempts – remained unknown for children, adolescents and adults.

This, they claimed, was because of the poor design of trials that assessed these antidepressants, and the misreporting of findings in published articles.

The researchers, from the Nordic Cochrane Institute in Copenhagen, reviewed 70 trials with 18,526 patients to examine use of antidepressants and associated serious harms.

Harms included deaths, suicidal thoughts and attempts as well as aggression and akathisia, a form of restlessness that may increase suicide and violence.

They examined double blind placebo controlled trials that contained patient narratives or individual patient listings of associated harms.

In adults, they found no significant associations between antidepressants and suicide and aggression. However, they identified a doubling of risk for aggression and suicides in children and adolescents.

“The true risk for serious harms is still unknown [because] the low incidence of these rare events, and the poor design and reporting of the trials, makes it difficult to get accurate effect estimates,” said the study authors in the British Medical Journal.

They recommended “minimal use of antidepressants in children, adolescents, and young adults, as the serious harms seem to be greater, and as their effect seems to be below what is clinically relevant”, and suggest alternative treatments such as exercise or psychotherapy.

They also called for the need to identify “hidden information in clinical study reports to form a more accurate view of the benefits and harms of drugs”. 

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.