There has been a lot of debate over whether Prozac is effective in helping teenagers control depression. Now, a landmark government study is helping answer some questions about that.
The study looked at 400 teens who were described as moderately to severely depressed. The teens were divided into three groups. Some were given Fluoxetine, better known as Prozac, others were just counseled with talk therapy. Then, a third group got both treatments.
The combination therapy offered the most significant improvement. In fact, when it comes to the scariest risk, the severely depressed teens who turn to suicide, the study found Prozac alone was not enough without steady counseling.
"If you're suicidal, it's better to get the psychotherapeutic treatment than to get medication management alone, and it is actually better to get the psychotherapeutic treatment in combination with Fluoxetine," says Dr. John March, a psychiatrist with the Tads Study Team.
Again, Fluoxetine is the main drug in Prozac. Dr. March adds the study found no evidence that Prozac ever triggered suicidal thoughts, only that the drug wasn't enough to treat suicidal tendencies unless it was combined with counseling. The report is in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Also, Prozac is the only antidepressant approved for use in young patients. Dr. March and his colleagues are continuing to follow the patients in this study to look at the long-term effects of treatment and to look for any gender differences in effectiveness. This study is from researchers at Duke University Medical Center.
Researchers stress that even though the suicide risk was increased in the Prozac group, the overall increase was still relatively low. None of the study participants committed suicide. Concerns over the issue prompted the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year to warn that patients taking the drugs should be watched closely for signs of suicide.