Back in 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required that a particular class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) carry a “black box” warning that for children and teens, side effects may include an increased risk of suicidal thoughts. Sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it?
But then, along comes the Law of Unintended Consequences, which revealed that since that FDA mandate came out, doctors wrote 20 percent fewer prescriptions for SSRIs (which include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Celexa) for their teen patients. (Adult use of SSRI antidepressants went down by 14 perent—and they weren’t even covered by the FDA warnings). At the same time, teen suicide attempts rose by about the same amount—21.7 percent for teens, 33.7 percent for young adults under 25.