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New Hope for Depressed Teens
Date:2/26/2008

Study finds that if first antidepressant doesn't work, try a second and add psychotherapy

TUESDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- If a depressed teen doesn't respond to treatment with commonly prescribed antidepressants the first time around, new research suggests there's still hope.

Switching medications and adding behavioral talk therapy turned out to be the most effective alternative, although just switching medications also helped many individuals.

"On average, these kids were ill for two years and no matter which treatment they got, at least 40 percent responded within 12 weeks," said study author Dr. David Brent, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "I really think the take-home message to families is if you don't respond to the first treatment, don't give up."

The study appears in the Feb. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The issue of whether depressed or troubled children should even take antidepressants has been at the center of an intense public debate in recent years.

Some research has turned up evidence that kids on antidepressants have a higher rate of suicide ideation, meaning suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Heeding this data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004 asked manufacturers of antidepressants to add a black-box warning to their labels warning about the increased suicide risk.

Recent research, however, has found that the benefits of antidepressants outweigh the risks for children and teens under the age of 19.

About 60 percent of adolescents with depression respond to treatment with antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Guidelines recommend prescribing SSRI medications, psychotherapy or both as a first-line treatment for this younger population. (The only SSRI approved by the FDA for use in pediatric patients is Proza
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