Antidepressants and Autism Ranking: Mildly Hazardous Unable to rate


Anti-depressant tablets Antidepressants are medications, which increase the level of active neurotransmitters in the brain.

They are used to treat people with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.

Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat people with autism who have mental health problems.

They may also be used to treat people with ASD who have other problems, such as repetitive behaviours or social deficits.

Please note

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) made the following recommendations:

'Do not use antidepressant medication for the routine management of core symptoms of autism in adults..' (NICE, 2012)

Our Opinion

There is insufficient research evidence on the effects of SSRI and tricyclic antidepressants on specific abnormalities of adults with autism to make a clear recommendation.

The evidence from published studies suggests that they may reduce repetitive behaviours. Large scale methodologically adequate trials are needed that examine pre-specified autistic outcomes.

The use of antidepressant drugs to treat autistic abnormalities in children cannot be recommended on the basis of current evidence and because there are concerns about the harm due to SSRI induced activation and agitation.

Their use should only be considered in specialist settings taking particularly into consideration subject selection and dosage. Methodologically sound studies are needed.


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29 Jul 2016
Last Review
01 Dec 2014
Next Review
01 Jan 2017