The New York Times has an article on the increasing number of people who have been on antidepressants drugs since their childhood years and have experienced ‘growing up’ while medicated.
Still, what do we know about the effects of, say, 15 to 20 years of antidepressant drug treatment that begins in adolescence or childhood? Not enough.
The reason has to do with the way drugs are tested and approved. To get F.D.A. approval, a drug has to beat a placebo in two randomized clinical trials that typically involve a few hundred subjects who are treated for relatively short periods, usually 4 to 12 weeks.
So drugs are approved based on short-term studies for what turns out to be long-term ‚Äî often lifelong ‚Äî use in the world of clinical practice. The longest maintenance study to date of one of the newer antidepressants, Effexor, lasted only two years and showed the drug to be superior to a placebo in preventing relapses of depression.
In fact, there are no reliable long-term studies even of drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin) that are widely used in children.
One of the most interesting things is the huge amount of comments the article has attracted, with many people sharing their own experiences of a medicated adolescence.