Following the FDA black box warning in 2004, substantial reductions in antidepressant (ATD) use were observed within 2 years in children and adolescents in several countries. However, whether these reductions were sustained is not known. The objective of this study was to assess more recent trends in ATD use in youth (0-19 years) for the calendar years 2005/6-2012 using data extracted from regional or national databases of Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US). In a repeated cross-sectional design, the annual prevalence of ATD use was calculated and stratified by age, sex, and according to subclass and specific drug. Across the years, the prevalence of ATD use increased from 1.3% to 1.6% in the US data (+26.1%); 0.7% to 1.1% in the UK data (+54.4%); 0.6% to 1.0% in Denmark data (+60.5%); 0.5% to 0.6% in the Netherlands data (+17.6%); and 0.3% to 0.5% in Germany data (+49.2%). The relative growth was greatest for 15-19 year olds in Denmark, Germany and UK cohorts, and for 10-14 year olds in Netherlands and US cohorts. While SSRIs were the most commonly used ATDs, particularly in Denmark (81.8% of all ATDs), Germany and the UK still displayed notable proportions of tricyclic antidepressant use (23.0% and 19.5%, respectively). Despite the sudden decline in ATD use in the wake of government warnings, this trend did not persist, and by contrast, in recent years, ATD use in children and adolescents has increased substantially in youth cohorts from five Western countries.
Keywords: Adolescent; Antidepressant agents; Black box warning; Child; Multinational; Prevalence trends.
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