Research summary: Review of SSRI antidepressant use in autism

Our first research summary comes from a recently published review by the ASfAR Chair, Prof. Katrina Williams. Prof. Williams and her team have recently published a review of the use of SSRIs (antidepressants).

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterised by problems with social interaction and communication, as well as repetitive behaviours and limited activities and interests. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants that are sometimes given to reduce anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behaviours. We found nine trials, involving 320 people, which evaluated four SSRIs: fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, fenfluramine and citalopram. Five studies included only children and four studies included only adults. One trial enrolled 149 children, but the other trials were much smaller. We found no trials that evaluated sertraline, paroxetine or escitalopram. There is no evidence to support the use of SSRIs to treat autism in children. There is limited evidence, which is not yet sufficiently robust, to suggest effectiveness of SSRIs in adults with autism. Treatment with an SSRI may cause side effects. Decisions about the use of SSRIs for established clinical indications that may co-occur with autism, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression in adults or children, and anxiety in adults, should be made on a case-by-case basis.

The entire paper is available free here

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About

Hello. My name's Jon Brock. I'm a Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the ARC Centre for Cognition and its Disorders and the Departments of Cognitive Science and Psychology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. My research focuses on cognitive and neural mechanisms involved in developmental disorders including autism, Williams syndrome, and Down syndrome. Publications can be downloaded here. My CV (pdf) can be downloaded here. As well as this blog, I've also written for the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, and The Conversation. Translations of some of my posts can be found on the Spanish-language website Autismo Diario. This blog is for interest only and should not be seen as a substitute for professional advice. Opinions expressed are my own (at the time of writing).

Posted in Research Summary
ASfAR

The Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR) is a member based organization devoted to advancing knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) through research and scholarship.

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