EL PASO, Texas – Parents should know that early introduction of antidepressants in children could lead to lifelong use, according to a study by a psychology team at the University of Texas at El Paso recently published in Scientific Reports, a prestigious journal that is part of Nature Publishing Group.
Sergio IÃ±iguez, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and director of UTEP’s IÃ±iguez Behavioral Neuroscience Lab, said children prescribed drugs such as Prozac for anxiety and depression may need continue to use these products in adulthood to lead a normal life.
IÃ±iguez said the three-year study produced evidence that Prozac treatment had long-term effects on brain development, particularly the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls self-expression, decision making, complex behavior planning and social behavior moderation.
âThere is no cure for anxiety and depression yet,â IÃ±iguez said. “We manage these disorders with medication, so it is important to examine whether exposure to Prozac during adolescence is safe to use in the long term, especially to assess the potential harm / benefit ratio.”
IÃ±iguez led the research team consisting of a postdoctoral fellow, five doctoral students and two undergraduate students. One of the doctoral students was Francisco Flores, who received his doctorate from UTEP in 2020 and was hired by the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., As a postdoctoral researcher. This experimental work on antidepressants was his thesis project.
Flores commended IÃ±iguez and his lab colleagues for their help in this important study, as it produced information that will allow parents to make more informed decisions about whether or not to continue antidepressant treatment for their children.
âThis is particularly relevant data, given that some reports show that the incidence of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents is increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that many of these young people , especially girls, will be offered treatment with Prozac, âsaid Flores.
The antidepressant Fluoxetine, also known as Prozac, is approved by the FDA to treat depression in children as young as 8 years old. Although effective in children, science does not fully understand how exposure to this drug might influence their development and vulnerability to stress anxiety. and disorders as well as mental illness in adulthood, said AJ Robison, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology at Michigan State University.
Robison, a researcher who has known IÃ±iguez for 13 years, called his colleague a “leader in the field” who leads brain exploration and improved mental health. He said this recent study was another crucial step in understanding brain function, mental illness and psychiatry.
âThe body of work that Sergio and his talented laboratory has produced on this subject allows them, as well as other scientists and doctors, to better understand the benefits and risks of early exposure to this antidepressant and to other drugs. others, and can help discover alternative or additional treatments for depression. in children and / or for adults who were exposed to antidepressants during childhood, âsaid Robison.
About the University of Texas at El Paso
The University of Texas at El Paso is America’s premier university serving Hispanics. Located at the western end of Texas, where three states and two countries converge along the Rio Grande, 94% of our nearly 25,000 students are minorities, and half are the first in their families to go to college. . UTEP offers 166 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs at America’s only leading open-access research university.