Impact of antidepressant side effects on adolescent quality of life

Can J Psychiatry. 2003 Dec;48(11):727-33. doi: 10.1177/070674370304801104.


Objective: This study examines the relative impact of antidepressant side effects on adolescents with a history of major depression.

Methods: We used Q-sort methodology to capture the opinions of adolescents with a history of depression (n = 22), adults with a history of depression (n = 20), healthy adolescents (n = 20), and clinicians (n = 18) on the impact of 40 common antidepressant side effects. We asked subjects to force rank the side effects, judging each side effect on its relative impact on their daily lives. We also examined the impact of these side effects on health status and medication compliance. Primary analyses compared adolescents with depression with the other groups on their mean rankings for each of the 40 side effects. Secondary analyses included paired comparisons for ratings on health status and compliance.

Results: Although all groups ranked syncope and vomiting among the worst 5 side effects, significant differences were found between the groups on other side effects, such as anxiety, sleepiness, and hair loss. Based on the side effect with the most negative impact, adolescents with depression judged their own compliance (mean = 22%) to be higher than predicted by clinicians (mean = 11%). There were no significant differences between the groups on the mean rating of health status.

Conclusions: Adolescents with depression, adults with depression, healthy adolescents, and clinicians agreed on the negative impact of 2 side effects: vomiting and syncope. Q-sort methodology provides valuable insight into the similarities and differences in opinion regarding the potential impact of side effects in patient groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alopecia / chemically induced
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anxiety Disorders / chemically induced
  • Attitude to Health
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syncope / chemically induced
  • Vomiting / chemically induced


  • Antidepressive Agents