“Kids with autism don’t benefit from treatment with the popularly prescribed antidepressant citalopram, according to a large, government-funded trial of children with autism and related conditions.” (Original June 2, 2009 article by Shirley S. Wang, The Wall Street Journal)
The study, published in the June 2009 Archives of General Psychiatry, concludes, “Results of this trial do not support the use of citalopram for the treatment of repetitive behavior in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.”
Citalopram is the generic name for a harmful and addictive Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressant known also as Celexa. Side effects of SSRI’s include anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, heart attacks, hostility, paranoia, psychotic episodes, seizures, suicide, and violence. Withdrawal symptoms include deeper depression. One study found that patients taking SSRI antidepressants were seven times more likely to experience suicide than those taking a placebo.
[Editorial Comment: Why would any doctor prescribe a psychiatric drug with these kinds of harmful side effects to a vulnerable child with autism in the first place? Do you think there might be some money involved? Of course, this also begs the question why children with autism are given any kind of psychiatric drug at all.]
The U.S Food and Drug Administration in 2004 ordered pharmaceutical companies to add a “black box” warning to all antidepressants because the drugs could cause suicidal thoughts and actions in children and teenagers. They expanded this warning in 2005 to adults. In 2006 another study found that elderly people on SSRI antidepressants were almost five times more likely to commit suicide on these drugs than on other types of antidepressants.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatric institutions, and other medical doctors prescribing psychiatric drugs and treatments must be made fully accountable for their funding, practices and treatments, and their results, or lack thereof — including prescribing antidepressants whose only results are harmful side effects. If you know an autistic child who was prescribed Celexa and had no benefit from it (or who experienced harmful side effects) you might suggest that the parents consult a lawyer. Also, see the note below about MedWatch, the FDA program for reporting adverse drug reactions.