Meaningful Research Sheds Light on the Use of SSRIs in Pediatric Patients

  • Posted on: Feb 14 2019
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Psychopharmacology Burr Ridge, ILChildhood and adolescent anxiety are significant problems.  Children, teens, and adults can experience anxiety and depression quite differently. This is important because it alerts health care professionals that treatment involving psychopharmacology, or prescribed medication to treat symptoms, must be continually assessed.

A recent meta-analysis looked at the use of SSNRIs (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) and SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) in the treatment of pediatric anxiety.  The two work in similar ways, each acts on the brain to increase the concentration of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals that affect mood). An SSRI limits the activity of the serotonin transporter.  An SSNRI blocks both the serotonin transporter and norepinephrine transporter.

The meta-analysis, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, further supports the use of SSRIs as the first-line class of medication for the treatment of anxiety disorders in the younger patient population. Findings of the analysis, which reviewed 1,637 pediatric cases using seven different antidepressant drugs, included a significantly greater improvement among patients treated with SSRI medication by week two of treatment. Compared to patients treated with SSNRI medication, the SSRI group continued to demonstrate significantly better response at week 12 of treatment.

Additional findings of the study showed that high-dose SSRI treatment accelerated initial response (week 2) and supported continued benefits at week 8 compared to low-dose protocols. However, both high-dose and low-dose cases achieved improvement within 12 weeks of treatment.  The meta-analysis performed by Dr. Strawn and colleagues is significant.  It offers important data on how much and how quickly patients responded to these pharmacologic treatments.

Children from pre-school to college age face enormous pressures revolving around social development, academic expectations, physical growth, and family dynamics. For some, the stress and subsequent anxiety or depressed mood that may coincide with these pressures do not pass.

Anxiety and depression do not indicate weakness. These are not things to overcome with willpower or positive thinking. In order to avoid potentially serious consequences, it is imperative to seek professional assessment and help for lingering feelings of worry, sadness, or fear.

Help your family take a step toward better health. Call 630-325-4899 to schedule a consultation with child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Stull.

Reference: Jeffrey R. Strawn, MD, Jeffrey A. Mills, PhD, Beau A. Sauley, MA, Jeffrey A. Welge, PhD: The Impact of Antidepressant Dose and Class on Treatment Response in Pediatric Anxiety Disorders: A Meta-Analysis, April 2018

Posted in: Psychopharmacology

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