Recently The Lancet published the most comprehensive study that has ever been conducted on whether antidepressants help or hurt teens with major depressive disorder, and the results show that almost all of the drugs in this class are not effective when used for children and adolescents who have this mental disorder. The study also showed that not only were some of the drugs in this class ineffective for treating MDD but that they also increased the risk of a suicide attempt and depression for these patients. Only 1 of 14 antidepressant drugs studied was more effective than what the placebo showed and that was Prozac (fluoxetine). Many researchers also point out that the risks and effectiveness of these drugs is still not clear due to poor clinical design, selective reporting, and the small number of clinical trials performed.
University of Oxford Dr. Andrea Cipriani was the lead author on the study looking at the use of antidepressants in kids and teens with major depressive disorder. According to Dr. Cipriani “Without access to individual-level data it is difficult to get accurate effect estimates and we can’t be completely confident about the accuracy of the information contained in published and unpublished trials. It has been widely argued that there needs to be a transformation of existing scientific culture to one where responsible data sharing should be the norm.”
In a linked comment University of Adelaide researcher Dr. Jon Jureidini pointed out that “[For example], in four trials of paroxetine versus placebo, only 13 (3 percent) of 413 events were reported in the paroxetine group; this seems implausible when individual patient-level data reanalysis of just one of those studies found ten events in only 93 patients given paroxetine (10.8 percent). The effect of misreporting is that antidepressants, possibly including fluoxetine, are likely to be more dangerous and less effective treatments than has been previously recognized, so there is little reason to think that any antidepressant is better than nothing for young people. Patients who take part in randomized controlled trials have a right to expect that maximum benefit will come from the data they generate.”