How Useful Are Stimulant Medications (Such As Ritalin) For Treating Pediatric Depression?

Dr. Schlozman answers the question: 'Stimulants For Pediatric Depression?'

— -- Question: How useful are stimulant medications (such as methylphenidate or Ritalin) for treating pediatric depression?

Answer: So, a very large percentage of children who suffer from depression also suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The stimulants, or the first-line treatments for those conditions, the attentional disorders, those include medicines such as methylphenidate or Ritalin.

By themselves, stimulants have mild antidepressant effectiveness. But if somebody happens to suffer from both depression and ADHD, and if you've treated the depression and there's depressive symptoms left over, adding in a stimulant to treat their ADHD will often make the depressive symptoms look better.

Finally, one should note that one of the atypical antidepressants, Wellbutrin or bupropion, has stimulant properties to it -- it's used for both depression and for ADHD. So that's one particular agent that might have efficacy for both.

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