Antidepressants are not effective in children and young people, according to a study
Medications aimed at treating mental disorders have proved very useful in clinical practice, but they also have their drawbacks. Although in many cases they allow mitigating certain symptoms that negatively affect the quality of life of those who suffer them, it is also true that in all cases they have side effects in the patients' body .
The side effects, as well as the dependence that certain psychodrugs can generate, make it worth exploring alternatives.
Drugs to treat mental problems in children: a good idea?
When the potential clients of these substances are younger people, such as children and adolescents, the possibility of using invasive methods to alter the biological dynamics that occur in their nervous system is even more dangerous, taking into account that the changes produced at such ages can be determining factors in their growth.
That is why an ambitious meta-analysis of several researches has recently been carried out in which The efficacy of antidepressants in children and young people of both sexes was evaluated . The results, published in the scientific journal The Lancet, show that these drugs are much less effective than previously thought, or at least with regard to their effects on the youngest. In fact, they could increase the risk of suicidal thoughts (and behaviors).
How was the meta-analysis performed?
The meta-analysis was carried out by a team of researchers led by Dr. Andrea Cipriani, from the University of Oxford. It includes a review and a statistical analysis based on 34 trials based on the efficacy of 14 antidepressants in young people. In total, the children and adolescents studied among all the investigations from which the meta-analysis started formed a total of 5260 individuals.
Among the factors that were taken into account in the meta-analysis is, of course, the efficacy of antidepressants, but also their adverse effects, the abandonment and tolerance to their side effects .
Results: some antidepressants do not work
The most effective antidepressant found was, as judged from the results of the meta-analysis, fluoxetine. However, the most important discovery made from this study is that the rest of antidepressants showed an efficacy that at most could be considered as very low . In fact, they did not show an effectiveness superior to that of placebo. In addition, imipramine, duloxetine and venlafaxine generated such strong adverse effects that they stopped the treatment, something that does not happen with placebo. In the case of the latter (venlafaxine), an important correlation was detected between the taking of this antidepressant and the appearance of suicidal thoughts.
It is clear that the efficacy of this type of medication does not have to be taken for granted simply by the fact that the taking of these substances seems to have an evident effect on the mental processes: these effects do not have to be those that were intended to generate . In addition, psychopharmacological treatments that are effective in adults do not have to be equally beneficial in younger people, since both their body and the biological processes that occur in their neuroendocrine system are different from those of mature humans.
It is not convenient to venture conclusions
However, it is worth noting the fact that, although the findings of a meta-analysis may be more important than those of a single investigation based on a small group of people studied, this study has limitations that make us unable to take its findings as the absolute truth .
Firstly, because being a meta-analysis so massive and based on a large amount of information, the team that carried it out could not access the microdata used in the studies on which they were based, so they had to partially trust the good work of the scientists who preceded them.
In addition, the fact of working from investigations carried out independently of each other made that, in part, the data that were crossed in the statistical analysis were not comparable at all, when referring to slightly different situations and somewhat different methods.
That is why This meta-analysis should be considered as a base from which to continue researching , and not as a strong reason to make treatments with antidepressants are interrupted immediately.