Nontricyclic antidepressants: current trends in children and adolescents

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 May;38(5):517-28. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199905000-00013.


Objectives: First, to review the extant data on the safety and efficacy of the use of nontricyclic antidepressants in children and adolescents; second, to identify the main limitations of our current knowledge in this area; and third, to point to future research directions.

Method: A Medline search and a review of previous scientific meetings were conducted; all available reports on the efficacy and safety of nontricyclic antidepressants in children and adolescents were critically reviewed.

Results: As in adults, also in children nontricyclic antidepressants are potentially useful in treating a variety of psychiatric disorders. The data supporting their efficacy, however, are quite limited. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is the only psychiatric diagnosis for which pediatric use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors has been approved. One placebo-controlled study in children and adolescents with major depression supports the efficacy of fluoxetine. Other clinical trials of nontricyclic antidepressants in depressed adolescents are in progress. Available data indicate that the safety of these medications is good, at least in the short term.

Conclusions: The potential usefulness of nontricyclic antidepressants for children and adolescents suffering from a range of disorders is considerable. While information from adults can suggest potential areas of possible efficacy in pediatric patients suffering from similar psychopathology, further research is essential to provide the necessary information on the efficacy, safety, and pharmacokinetics of these medications in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Psychiatry / trends
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy
  • Child
  • Child Psychiatry / trends
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Research / trends


  • Antidepressive Agents