Low Dose of Prozac Increases Aggression in Adolescent Hamsters

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.

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  • Saul


    October 22nd, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    It is this kind of education that more parents need when they are deciding if this is the right treatment for theri children. Often they are given some big long spiel from teh doctor about why this will be good for their child and they take it at face value. They don’t know enough to do some more research and find the evidence like this that says that this could be dangerous for their kids. They are given the info that the doctor wishes to promote, and that’s it. This just begs the point that we have to look into things a little more deeply before deciding that the doctor knows best. Apparently, not always.

  • hervey


    October 22nd, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    there’s always side effects to meds that we have used for years.why are these things not looked for before a drug is approved, at the time of its development? more proof that the pharmaceutical industry in only looking for profits and not genuine help to the people/patients.

  • Kellen


    October 23rd, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    suppose you just never know what kind of outcome you will get until you see it for yourself

    i am anti-medication for these kinds of cases anyway so I am a little biased

  • mason


    October 23rd, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    prozac has been used for so many years and now this!are there no side-effect checking mechanism in place for drugs to be certified and allowed into the market??

  • Deanna.P


    October 23rd, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Adolescent have enough hormonal changes in them. DO drugs such as prozac have their effects tied to the increased hormonal changes in teens? Because generally medicines tend to have a differential effect in younger people.

  • leanna


    October 24th, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    I don’t know much about biology but common sense says they should have checked for all this before (?)!

    I don’t know why but we har of so many long trusted medicines being labeled as unsafe recently. You push pills down our throats for so long and now say they are unsafe? What kind of industry gets away with something like that?!

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