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Are antidepressants effective in quality of life improvement among children and adolescents? A systematic review

  • Dejan Stevanovic (a1), Ivana Tadic (a2) and Rajna Knez (a3)

There is some evidence indicating that psychotropic medications might lead to health-related quality of life (QOL) improvements among children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders. The aim of this systematic review is to assess evidence regarding whether antidepressant treatment improves QOL among children and adolescents with depressive or anxiety disorders. A comprehensive search resulted in 5 clinical trials to be included in this review: 4 trials with major depressive disorder (MDD) and 1 trial with social anxiety disorder (SAD). In one MDD trial, fluoxetine combined with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) significantly improved QOL compared to fluoxetine or CBT alone (effect sizes were 0.53 and 0.69, respectively). In 2 combined trials, sertraline alone significantly improved QOL among adolescents with MDD (effect size was 0.29), but not among children with MDD. Essentially, it was observed that antidepressants in these trials had minor positive effects on QOL improvement, which were lower than their potential to improve depressive symptoms. Although fluoxetine with CBT or sertraline monotherapy were shown to have some potential to improve QOL, this systematic review found inconclusive evidence that antidepressant treatments improve QOL among children and adolescents with depressive or anxiety disorders. More research is required, considering that QOL is currently under-evaluated in clinical trials with antidepressants among children and adolescents and available trials have limited methodological quality when reporting QOL data.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dejan Stevanovic, MD, Department of Psychiatry, General Hospital Sombor, Apatinski put 38, 25000 Sombor, Serbia. Email
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CNS Spectrums
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