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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages  November 12, 2003
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Depressed Kids Have Option In Medication
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Childhood and adolescence can be difficult times for anyone, but for those who are depressed it's a whole different story.

"They can't concentrate, they lose motivation. Their school grades decline, they have difficulty sleeping, difficulty eating, and then symptoms can become so severe that they're hopeless and have the desire to kill themselves," says psychiatrist Dr. Karen Dineen Wagner.

But how to treat these serious symptoms?  One option is the anti-depressant sertraline, also known as Zoloft.  Researchers from several institutions, including the drug maker Pfizer, performed a depression treatment study of nearly 400 children, ages six to seventeen.  Half the kids got Zoloft, the other half got a placebo. The findings appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Sertraline was significantly better than placebo in improving depression in children. It had an effect within three weeks of taking the medication," says Dr. Wagner.

69% of the children and teens on sertraline saw heir depression symptoms improve while 59% of the kids on placebo saw an improvement.  The difference may not seem that big, but Dr. Wagner says that children in studies often react well to placebos, because of all the attention and office visits that go with being in a study.  She says the findings offer hope for kids with depression, "Children should be given the opportunity to have medication, just as we would an adult."

Children on Zoloft experienced side effects such as nausea, vomiting, agitation, and decreased appetite, but overall the side effects were modest.

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