Following public health warnings a few years ago about the possibility that antidepressant drugs could make young people suicidal, the number of antidepressant prescriptions for children and teenagers declined in the United States and the Netherlands. During the same period, youth-suicide rates increased in both countries, raising concerns that the much-publicized regulatory efforts backfired, a new study finds.
A team led by biostatistician Robert D. Gibbons of the University of Illinois at Chicago examined U.S. and Dutch data from 2003 to 2005 on prescription rates of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to youngsters up to age 19. SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac) and other medications commonly used to treat depression. The researchers also tracked youth-suicide rates from 1998 through 2004 in the United States and through 2005 in the Netherlands.