Prozac is one of the only antidepressants approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of adolescent and pediatric depression. However, little research has been conducted to determine how safe Prozac is for children. Some studies have suggested that fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac, increases risk taking, suicidal behavior, fear, anxiety, and aggression in young people. Even though fluoxetine is administered at relatively low doses in the pediatric population, it is essential to find out if even small amounts of fluoxetine can lead to negative outcomes. To explore this relationship further, Lesley A. Ricci of the Department of Psychology at Northeastern University in Massachusetts recently conducted a study that assessed the behavior of adolescent hamsters that were given low doses of fluoxetine for 28 days.
Ricci evaluated the neural systems of the hamsters and looked specifically at the production of vasopressin (AVP) and serotonin (5HT) as pathways for aggressive behavior. After evaluating the behavior of the hamsters for four weeks, Ricci discovered that the hamsters who received the fluoxetine had higher levels of aggressive behavior than the control sample. Additionally, the aggression of the hamsters on fluoxetine matched aggression levels found in hamsters trained to fight. This suggests that fluoxetine may affect the neural circuitry responsible for controlling certain behaviors, like aggression and violence. “This possibility would support clinical data that associate a repeated low-dose administration of a fluoxetine regimen with an increased incidence of hostility and aggression in children and adolescents,” Ricci said.
This study is among the first to demonstrate a direct link between even moderate doses of fluoxetine and aggressive behavior, and to shed light on the mechanisms that lead to aggression. Ricci believes there is a need for additional research so that the risk of negative outcomes can be reduced for children and adolescents who are prescribed fluoxetine for depression.
Ricci, Lesley A., and Richard H. Melloni Jr. Repeated fluoxetine administration during adolescence stimulates aggressive behavior and alters serotonin and vasopressin neural development in hamsters. Behavioral Neuroscience 126.5 (2012): 640-53. Print.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.