As with other conditions with a psychological component — like insomnia — treating depression involves more than throwing pills at the problem.
While antidepressants help many children and adolescents, they put others at higher risk for suicide, according to a study of more than 5,000 patients with severe depression. Young people who attempted to kill themselves, including eight children who succeeded, were more likely to have been taking drugs such as Zoloft and Paxil, researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center reported.
Those patients had been hospitalized. Others on antidepressants get no therapy at all, according to a study of nearly 85,000 patients on antidepressants reported by the Associated Press today. One-third of children and even fewer adults were seen by a doctor or therapist within a month of starting drug treatment — a vulnerable time in which patients are still adjusting to medications which may or may not be right for them.
So an important question to ask is whether an experimental vaccine that treats depression within hours going to be a “striking success,” as researchers called it in yesterday’s Washington Post, or will it lead to patients getting a quick antidepressant shot without therapy or follow-up?