Fluoxetine for acute treatment of depression in children and adolescents: a placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002 Oct;41(10):1205-15. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200210000-00010.


Background: This report presents results from the acute treatment phase of a clinical trial designed to confirm efficacy of a fixed dose of 20 mg of fluoxetine in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Method: After a 3-week screening period, 122 children and 97 adolescents with MDD ( ) were randomly assigned to placebo or fluoxetine. After a 1-week placebo lead-in, fluoxetine-treated patients received fluoxetine 10 mg/day for 1 week, then fluoxetine 20 mg/day for 8 weeks.

Results: Fluoxetine was associated with greater mean improvement in Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R) score than placebo after 1 week ( <.05) and throughout the study period. Significantly more fluoxetine-treated patients (41%) met the prospectively defined criteria for remission than did placebo-treated patients (20%) ( <.01). More fluoxetine- (65%) than placebo-treated (53%) patients met the prospectively defined response criterion of > or =30% decrease in CDRS-R score, but this difference was not significant ( =.093). Significantly more fluoxetine-than placebo-treated patients completed acute treatment ( =.001). There were no significant differences between treatment groups in discontinuations due to adverse events ( =.408).

Conclusion: Fluoxetine 20 mg daily appears to be well tolerated and effective for acute treatment of MDD in child and adolescent outpatients. Fluoxetine is the only antidepressant that has demonstrated efficacy in two placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials of pediatric depression.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine