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Children with high adherence to ADHD medication methylphenidate at greater risk of being prescribed antidepressants

Published on 27/03/19 at 10:33am

Children who were treated with methylphenidate-based medications (i.e. Ritalin) for conditions such as ADHD were at significantly greater risk of being prescribed antidepressants in the future, according to study from researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses among children and adolescents around the world. The standard of care typically includes long term treatment with methylphenidate (MPH)-based medications.

However a 12-year longitudinal study of 6,830 children has shown that consistent treatment with MPH-based medications during childhood significantly increases the risk of antidepressant use during adolescence.

Children with high adherence to MPH-based medications between the ages of six and eight were at much greater risk of being prescribed antidepressants between the ages of 12 and 18, even after controlling for other comorbid psychiatric conditions and parental use of antidepressants.

“Parents, doctors and teachers should be aware that prolonged consumption of MPH-based medications beginning at these ages can be a predictor of subsequent use of antidepressants. Our findings highlight the importance of systematic follow-up for all children who initiated MPH treatment before the age of eight and persisted in their treatment,” says Dr. Nir Madjar, of Bar-Ilan University's Churgin School of Education, who led the study.

Louis Goss

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