Antidepressants for Kids, Teens Don’t Work

[Medical ★]


(P1) A new study suggests that giving most antidepressants to kids and teens with depression is useless, and may even be harmful. Scientists took a look at 34 trials involving 14 antidepressants and 5,260 subjects with an average age of 9 to 18, the research study notes. Drugs studied included sertraline, sold under the brand name Zoloft, and escitalopram, or Lexapro. Findings? “The only one that is better than placebo and other drugs is Prozac [fluoxetine],” says the study’s lead author, reports the AP. Venlafaxine (Effexor), meanwhile, may actually pose a danger to youngsters: Subjects who took this drug showed an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actual attempts compared to those who used placebos and five other antidepressants. The study was published in the Lancet journal.

(P2) Because of what researchers say is a dearth of reliable data, venlafaxine may not be the only antidepressant that could prove dangerous, leading to the scientists’ own caveat for this research: that the relatively small number of eligible studies they reviewed, the flawed design of some clinical trials, and misreported results may be masking the true risk involved with the studied antidepressants. The percentage of US youngsters up to age 19 taking antidepressants rose from 1.3% in 2005 to 1.6% in 2012 despite FDA warnings and psychological interventions still being encouraged as the first resort. “We recommend that children and adolescents taking antidepressants should be monitored closely,” a study co-author writes, “particularly at the beginning of treatment.” (Paxil, one of the drugs included in this research, was found to be unsafe for teens in a 2015 study.)

WORDS: 262


VOCABULARY: antidepressants, brand name, placebo, youngsters, dearth, caveat, flawed, masking, interventions


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you agree or disagree that giving antidepressants to kids and teens may be harmful? Why?
  3. Why do people become depressed?
  4. Should drug companies perform more studies into the effects of their drugs? Why or why not?


  1. How many people and drugs were included in the new research?
  2. Zoloft and Sertraline are different drugs. (T or F)
  3. The people who are doing the research say the information trustworthy ?
  4. Which drug was discovered to pose a danger to teenagers in 2015?


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • 34 trials (P1)
  • Pose a danger (P1)
  • Suicidal thoughts (P1)
  • Monitored closely (P2)

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Image source: by AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File

One thought on “Antidepressants for Kids, Teens Don’t Work

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