SSRIs and Children

In recent months there has been a great deal of discussion about Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants and the risk of suicide for children and adolescents taking them. DBSA's primary concern is protecting the safety of all people with depression and bipolar disorder. Parents must work with health care providers to make informed decisions regarding their children. They also must weigh the risks of treating depression with SSRIs vs. the risks and lifetime impact of untreated depression and suicidal ideation.

DBSA's position on the subject is summed up in the following letter:

printed in the New York Times

To the Editor:

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 24. In 2002, nearly 125,000 young people attempted suicide, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ninety percent of youths who commit suicide have some type of psychiatric diagnosis. This tragedy is a public health crisis in the United States. We at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance agree with your Sept. 16 editorial "Risk of Antidepressants" that the risks and benefits of antidepressant use in children and adolescents need to be thoroughly weighed. But we are concerned that the Food and Drug Administration ruling will result in fewer young people receiving the treatment they need, increasing their risk of suicide. We urge a significant and immediate increase in financing to the National Institute of Mental Health for comprehensive suicide research to discover why certain antidepressants increase the risk of suicide in some young people and to develop safer, more efficacious treatments.

Lydia Lewis,
President, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA has pulled together the following information to help parents make informed decisions about treatment for their children.