A recent animal study may help explain why some children become agitated, even suicidal, while taking the widely prescribed antidepressant Prozac. The study has found that juvenile hamsters became aggressive on low doses of Prozac (fluoxetine) but less aggressive on high doses. By contrast, adult hamsters were calm on both high and low doses of the drug. Put simply; adult and juvenile brains are different. Experts cautioned that the experiment does have limitations, however. There are, after all, significant differences between hamsters and humans. Nevertheless, the findings do have some value. Scientists already know from adolescent studies that the brain continues to mature during adolescence, and even the early adult years. So, this study is important in that it reminds experts that further research is really necessary to look at how an evolving central nervous system responds to different stimuli.”
Pediatric use of antidepressant medications — especially a newer class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), of which Prozac is a member — has been the subject of extended controversy.
In October 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration directed manufacturers of SSRIs, which include Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, to put a special “black-box” warning on the drugs’ labeling. The warning alerts health-care providers about an increased risk of suicidality in children and teens using the medications.
In July 2005, the FDA issued a public health advisory that raised the possibility that the risk of suicidality also applied to adults taking SSRIs, after several studies pointed to that possibility.
Other studies, however, have found a lower incidence of youth suicide related to Prozac and other SSRIs. Prozac is the only medication approved to treat depression in children and adolescents.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Oct 2006
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Underwood, C. (2006). Animal Study Links Teen Aggression With Prozac. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2006/10/16/animal-study-links-teen-aggression-with-prozac/