Learning that your teen has depression can be terrifying for a parent – concerns range from getting the right treatment to general safety. It was estimated in 2013 that 8 percent of high school students attempted suicide one or more times in the previous 12 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And now, a reanalysis of data in The BMJ last week found that Paxil, one of the most prescribed antidepressants on the market, is ineffective and even harmful for treating major depression in adolescents.
The new findings are in contrast to the original study from 2001. Researchers of the original industry-funded study found Paxil, just one of a group of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, was safe and effective. The reanalysis showed that a number of adolescents from the original study did experience increased thoughts of suicide. But the suicidal thoughts were simply counted as generic adverse events and not clearly presented in the results.
For a long time, there have been some indications that these medicines may raise the rates of thoughts of self-harm in adolescents. This led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2007 to issue a “black box” warning about increases in suicidal thoughts. In December 2014, the warning was revised to state that attempts at self-harm decreased in patients ages 24 and older with anti-depressant use, but there was no change on the warning for adolescents.