Behavior & Development • Nov 10, 2022

Antidepressants and Understanding Black Box Warnings

Hearing your child is diagnosed with depression is tough. It can cause a parent to go through worry, guilt, and even denial as they digest the news. Dr. Sarah Garwood, Adolescent Medicine Specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, describes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the first line of treatment for these diagnoses, and the black box warnings that come with them. Black box warnings are required by the FDA for certain medications that carry serious safety risks. These warnings communicate the potential rare, but dangerous, side effects and often provide guidance on how to safely use the drug.

SSRI warnings should not be a deterrent for treating depression. When prescribing SSRIs, Dr. Garwood always explains the warning and encourages the patient to communicate any increases in suicidal thoughts with a parent or trusted adult or to call a hotline. Anti-depression medication is only part of the treatment for depression. It’s also important to work with a mental health professional, keep a daily routine, and spend time outside as much as you can.