Trends and Patterns of Antidepressant Use in French Children and Adolescents From 2009 to 2016: A Population-Based Study in the French Health Insurance Database

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Over the last decade, the use of antidepressants (ATDs) in children and adolescents has markedly increased in several occidental countries, but recent data in French children are missing. This study aimed to assess trends of ATD use in French children (6–11 years) and adolescents (12–17 years) and to characterize changes in ATD prescribing patterns from 2009 to 2016.


Using data from the French Health Insurance Database, annual prevalence and incidence of ATD use and changes in ATD prescribing patterns were analyzed.


Overall ATD prevalence of use rose slightly from 0.51% in 2009 to 0.53% in 2016 (+3.9%), with a decrease in children (0.18%–0.11%; −38.9%) and an increase in adolescents (0.86%–0.98%; +14.0%) and an overall female preponderance (56.7% in 2009; 58.7% in 2016). Serotonin reuptake inhibitor prevalence of use increased from 0.24% to 0.34%, whereas tricyclic ATD use decreased (from 0.20% to 0.16%). Similar trends were obtained with overall incidence of use, from 0.39% in 2009 to 0.36% in 2016 (−7.7%). Sertraline was the most frequently prescribed in adolescents (2009: 22.2% of all ATD prescriptions; 2016: 32.9%), whereas amitriptyline was the most prescribed in children (2009: 42.7% and 2016: 41.2%). Off-label use decreased in adolescents (from 48.4% to 34.8%) but increased in children (from 10.0% to 26.5%).


Antidepressant level of use in French children and adolescents was stable in recent years and lower than that observed in other European countries and the United States.

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