A World Health Organization (WHO) study released online by the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology yesterday, finds a “worrying” increase in rates of antidepressant prescriptions to children and adolescents. Denmark’s increase of 60% topped the study. WHO director of mental health Shekhar Saxena stated; ““Anti-depressant use amongst young people is and has been a matter of concern because of two reasons. One, are more people being prescribed anti-depressants without sufficient reason? And second, can anti-depressants do any major harm?”
Trends and patterns of antidepressant use in children and adolescents from five western countries, 2005–2012. European Neuropsychopharmacology, published online February 08, 2016. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2016.02.001
- From 2005–2012, antidepressant (ATD) use increased markedly in all studied countries.
- In 2012, ATD prevalence was 1.6% (US), 1.1% (UK), 1.0% (DK), 0.6% (NL) and 0.5% (DE).
- Increase was greatest in 10−14 year olds (NL, UK) and 15−19 year olds (DK, DE, US).
- SSRIs were most popular in DK (81.8% of all ATDs), and tricyclics in DE (23.0%).
- Top-ranking drugs were citalopram (DK, NL), fluoxetine (DE, UK) and sertraline (US).
Following the FDA black box warning in 2004, substantial reductions in antidepressant (ATD) use were observed within 2 years in children and adolescents in several countries. However, whether these reductions were sustained is not known. The objective of this study was to assess more recent trends in ATD use in youth (0−19 years) for the calendar years 2005/6–2012 using data extracted from regional or national databases of Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US). In a repeated cross-sectional design, the annual prevalence of ATD use was calculated and stratified by age, sex, and according to subclass and specific drug. Across the years, the prevalence of ATD use increased from 1.3% to 1.6% in the US data (+26.1%); 0.7% to 1.1% in the UK data (+54.4%); 0.6% to 1.0% in Denmark data (+60.5%); 0.5% to 0.6% in the Netherlands data (+17.6%); and 0.3% to 0.5% in Germany data (+49.2%). The relative growth was greatest for 15−19 year olds in Denmark, Germany and UK cohorts, and for 10−14 year olds in Netherlands and US cohorts. While SSRIs were the most commonly used ATDs, particularly in Denmark (81.8% of all ATDs), Germany and the UK still displayed notable proportions of tricyclic antidepressant use (23.0% and 19.5%, respectively). Despite the sudden decline in ATD use in the wake of government warnings, this trend did not persist, and by contrast, in recent years, ATD use in children and adolescents has increased substantially in youth cohorts from five Western countries.
From New Europe:
“The debate about the usefulness of the psychiatric drugs in general is still on. In May 2015, Peter Gøtzsche, professor at Nordic Cochrane Centre in Rigshospitalet claimed that “we could stop almost all psychotropic drug use without deleterious effect.”
“Gøtzsche claimed in a debate at the British Medical Journal , that psychiatric drugs do more harm than good. “Psychiatric drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people aged 65 and older each year in the Western world…Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal,” he stressed, referring to some of his studies.”