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Antidepressants In Autism: A Big Question Mark

by Dr. Sania Siddiqui on  August 09, 2010 at 1:02 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
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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.
 Antidepressants In Autism: A Big Question Mark
Antidepressants In Autism: A Big Question Mark

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 not advisable.

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 Autism?

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.

Recent Trials

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.

According to the author, the benefits reaped from the two adult trials are still very little from recommending SSRIs in the treatment of autism.

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