Autism is a set of disorders
ranging from inability to communicate, relate, and interact with the world
around him. It is characterized by restrictive and repetitive behavior.
Sadly, no definite therapy till
date has been modulated to cure this disorder completely. Antidepressants have
worked for adults in some individual cases, but in children, its usage is still
According to a current study by
researchers at Cochrane, autistic children could suffer from adverse side
effects on taking antidepressants. There are no evidences of benefits gained
due to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Why SSRIs Are Used To Treat
Medications do not treat the
underlying neurologic cause of this disorder. Rather, it helps in managing the
behavioral manifestations. It's a kind of symptomatic treatment.
Reason behind using
antidepressants for autism is that SSRIs act upon serotonin, which is
responsible for causing few of the psychological processes in this condition.
In some people, they are known to have reduced the behavioral symptoms like
irritability, depression, and aggression.
A Big No-No For Children
In several countries
antidepressants are not approved by their drug authorities for children in any
condition. So, its usage for autistic kids is still not recommended.
In a recent trial, lead author,
Dr. Katrina Williams of Sydney Children's Hospital,
University of New South Wales,
Sydney, Australia, has suggested that antidepressants in children and even
adults for that matter, is not recommended.
However, SSRIs for co-occurring
disorders such as aggression, depression, or anxiety in autistic individuals
should be made on a case by case basis.
In the research, seven trials were
undertaken and it involved 271 patients in the study.
The trials evaluated fluoxetine,
fenfluramine, fluvoxamine, and citalopram. To their disappointment, in five trials conducted on children, researchers found no significant benefit. In the remaining two in adults, very little improvement was observed.
to the author, the benefits reaped from the two adult trials are still very
little from recommending SSRIs in the treatment of autism.