Depression treatment during outpatient visits by US children and adolescents JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT HEALTH Ma, J., Lee, K. V., Stafford, R. S. 2005; 37 (6): 434-442


Depression affects approximately 2-8% of all children and adolescents, and treatment of depression in children and adolescents has been the center of recent serious debates. We examined national trends in depression visits and treatment among outpatients aged 7 to 17 years.We analyzed visit-based data between 1995 and 2002 in two national ambulatory care surveys.The number of visits by children and adolescents during which depression was reported more than doubled from 1995-1996 (1.44 million) to 2001-2002 (3.22 million). The proportion of these visits during which antidepressants were prescribed rose slightly from 47% in 1995-1996 to 52% in 2001-2002, whereas the proportion during which psychotherapy or mental health counseling was provided declined from 83% to 68%. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) represented 76% of all antidepressants prescribed in 1995-1996 and 81% in 2001-2002. In absolute terms, SSRIs were reported in 1.35 million visits in 2001-2002, reflecting a 2.6-fold increase from 1995-1996. Fluoxetine was prescribed in 207,914 visits in 1995-1996 and increased 100% to 415,580 visits in 2001-2002. The use of sertraline increased by 62% to 345,576 visits and paroxetine by 269% to 279,275 visits.We observed a declining trend in the provision of psychotherapy/mental health counseling during outpatient visits by children and adolescents diagnosed with depression. Although the likelihood of receiving antidepressants remained essentially unchanged, the number of children and adolescents whose visits involved prescription of antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, has increased markedly through 2002. Although fluoxetine remained the most commonly prescribed, other SSRIs were increasingly prescribed through 2002. These trends raise concerns regarding the widespread off-label use of antidepressants lacking reliable evidence of safety and efficacy for use in children and adolescents.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.07.012

View details for Web of Science ID 000233755400002

View details for PubMedID 16310120