Clinical characteristics associated with the prescribing of SSRI medication in adolescents with major unipolar depression

Cousins, Lesley, Whitaker, Kirstie J., Widmer, Barry, Midgley, Nick, Byford, Sarah, Dubicka, Bernadka, Kelvin, Raphael, Reynolds, Shirley, Roberts, Christopher, Holland, Fiona, Barrett, Barbara, Senior, Robert, Wilkinson, Paul, Target, Mary, Fonagy, Peter and Goodyer, Ian M (2016) Clinical characteristics associated with the prescribing of SSRI medication in adolescents with major unipolar depression. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 25 (12). 1287–1295. ISSN 1018-8827

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Unipolar major depressions (MD) emerge markedly during adolescence. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) UK recommends psychological therapies, with accompanying selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) prescribed in severe cases only. Here, we seek to determine the extent and rationale of SSRI prescribing in adolescent MD before entering a randomised clinical trial. SSRI prescribing, together with their clinical characteristics was determined in 465 adolescent patients with MD prior to receiving a standardised psychological therapy as part of the Improving mood with psychoanalytic and cognitive therapies (IMPACT) clinical trial. Overall, 88 (19 %) had been prescribed antidepressants prior to psychological treatment. The clinical correlates varied by gender: respectively, depression severity in boys and self-harming behaviours in girls. Prescribing also differed between clinical research centres. Medical practitioners consider severity of depression in boys as an indicator for antidepressant prescribing. Self-injury in girls appears to be utilised as a prescribing aid which is inconsistent with past and current revised UK NICE guidelines.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescents,depression,antidepressants,ssris,risk,self-harm
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 03 May 2016 14:00
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 01:06
DOI: 10.1007/s00787-016-0849-y


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