Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Jay Metzger


adolescent depression, antidepressants, adolescent antidepressants, antidepressant safety, antidepressant efficacy, adolescent suicide, and suicide rates


This literature review was conducted to determine the safety and efficacy of antidepressants in the adolescent population based on the currently available research. Specifically, are antidepressants safe and efficacious in treating depression in adolescents and is their use associated with increased risk of suicide. Data was collected by searching medical databases including: Clinical Key, CINAHL Complete, PsycINFO, PubMed, DynaMed Plus, and Cochrane Review. The review of the literature included systematic reviews, meta-analysis, cross-sectional, longitudinal, randomized control trials, and survey methods. All literature works selected were published within the past 14 years. A focused search was performed to gather information on antidepressant safety and efficacy in adolescents. Upon analysis, the literature showed a significant increase in the rate of depression and suicide amongst adolescents. However, other studies demonstrated mixed results regarding the risk of suicide in adolescents who were prescribed antidepressants. Based on the literature reviewed, there is not a clear correlation between increased suicide and antidepressant use in adolescents. In fact, some studies show a significant decrease in suicide amongst subjects who were taking an antidepressant. The research indicates that antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are both efficacious and relatively safe when used by themselves. When used alone, antidepressants are slightly more efficacious than CBT alone. The literature also indicates that the combinations of CBT and antidepressants are the most efficacious in treating depression in the adolescent population.