Have Antidepressant Prescriptions, Including Tricyclics, Increased in Canadian Children?

Research Paper Title

Antidepressant Prescriptions, Including Tricyclics, Continue to Increase in Canadian Children.


Few studies have longitudinally followed trends in antidepressant prescribing for Canadian children following the Black Box warning issued in 2004.

Using a national data source, we aim to describe trends in antidepressant recommendations for Canadian children ages 1-18 during 2012 to 2016.


A database called the Canadian Disease and Therapeutic Index (CDTI), provided by IQVIA, was used to conduct analyses. The CDTI dataset collects a quarterly sample of paediatric antidepressant recommendations, projected using a weight procedure from a dynamic sample of 652 Canadian office-based physicians.

The term “recommendations” is used because nonprescription drugs may be recommended and there is no confirmation in the database that the prescriptions were filled or medications taken.

The data were collected from 2012 to 2016 and the sample population was projected by IQVIA to be representative of the entire Canadian paediatric population.


The total number of projected antidepressant recommendations for children increased from 2012 to 2016. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were the most recommended class of antidepressants.

Analysis indicated that fluoxetine was the most frequently recommended drug.

Findings also suggest that recommendations for tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are increasing, but predominantly for reasons other than treatment of depression.


Overall, antidepressant use in Canadian children increased over the study period.

Unsurprisingly, fluoxetine was the most recommended antidepressant for Canadian children.

However, the observed increase in TCA use for a paediatric population is unexpected.

The data source is descriptive and lacks detailed measures supporting comprehensive explanation of the findings, therefore, further research is required.


Lukmanji, A., Pringsheim, T., Bulloch, A.G., Stewart, D.G., Chan, P., Tehrani, A. & Patten, S.B. (2020) Antidepressant Prescriptions, Including Tricyclics, Continue to Increase in Canadian Children. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. doi: 10.1089/cap.2019.0121. [Epub ahead of print].

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