Are Antidepressants To Blame For Aggressive Behaviors In Children?

New studies show that antidepressants may cause more aggressive behavior among children. BuzzFeed News writes that old clinical trial data suggests that subjecting children to antidepressants may be the root cause.

On Wednesday, the BMJ (British Medical Journal) took a retrospective look at more than 18,000 participants in clinical trials for several different antidepressants, BuzzFeed reports.

Their findings strongly suggest that children who took antidepressants in clinical trials were twice as likely to show aggressive behavior as those who took placebos.

Antidepressant side effects have been debatable for quite a while now. Some antidepressants are already linked to higher rates of suicide and suicidal thoughts in young people, and consumers are warned as such.

However, depressed young people are highly susceptible to such aggressive side effects, even under the regular restrictions already placed on some antidepressants. This is especially true regarding suicide.

To look more closely at the range of side effects, graduate student Tarang Sharma of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Denmark, and first author of the study, devised a team European drug regulators for the raw clinical trial data on five common antidepressants to test for such aggressive behaviors.

These common five are:

  • Cymbalta
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft
  • Effexor
Pictured are bottles some of the more popular antidepressant pills used in the study The FDA asked makers of popular antidepressants to add or strengthen suicide-related warnings on their labels as well as the possibility of worsening depression. [Photo and caption by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

Researchers then gathered data from more than 18,000 people while conducting 70 trials.

Next they juxtaposed the side effects in each trial, of each participant, by searching nearly 65,000 pages of documents for aggressive or other negative reactions. These include:

  • suicidal tendencies
  • aggressive behavior
  • akathisia, a deeply unpleasant feeling of restlessness caused by antidepressant drugs

What they found is that there are more cases of aggressive behavior in children than had previously been made public — further suggesting that regulations for antidepressant intake for kids need to be fine-tuned.

But one limitation with the antidepressant-causing aggressive behavior study is that it compares apples to oranges, noted Director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Washington in Seattle, Bryan King.

The director claims that almost nothing is standardized about how clinical trials look for side effects. This even goes for researchers who analyze and code the data as well.

“There clearly is a need for more standardization. [I’ve] participated in many clinical trials, and I don’t think any two have been alike in terms of how potential side effects are being collected and evaluated,” King told BuzzFeed News.

King added that myriad variables should have factored into this study, but didn’t. Variables such as parents not reporting their kid getting a cold, or falling down on the playground.

It could just be the kids falling or getting colds is much more common than those taking a placebo. It could simply mean that the drug is affecting the immune system or a child’s balance, therefore not triggering any aggressive or suicidal behaviors on the contrary.

To help clear the air, has pledged to make more clinical trial data available to researchers and the public. However, Sharma says her team struggled to get access to the data which they needed.

And the sole purpose of the publishing of this study (antidepressant fueled aggressive behavior in children) is a part of the BMJ’s push to publicize the scientific integrity and, more importantly, safety of drug consumers.

The medical field seems split on the issue so far, but in the meantime more studies suggesting that antidepressants=aggressive behavior seem to surface, particularly among youths.

For instance, the Inquisitr reported a while ago that psychiatric medication is indeed linked to teenage violence and aggression.

Dr. David Healy, a renowned Irish Psychiatrist, found that antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil have been linked to mass murder, suicides, and violence; especially when they are given to teenagers.

Cbs News reports that Newtown Shooter, Adam Lanza, took antidepressants as well. Connections with the drug have been connected with other mass murderers also. [Photo via]

Dr. Healy exposed a for-profit motive behind the over-prescription and overuse of these drugs his book, Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship Between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression.

What do you think? Are antidepressants really making kids more aggressive? Should they even be taking antidepressants in the first place?

[Image via Shutterstock/Lea Rojec]