J Korean Med Sci.  2017 Oct;32(10):1694-1701. 10.3346/jkms.2017.32.10.1694.

Prescription Pattern of Antidepressants for Children and Adolescents in Korea Based on Nationwide Data

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea. shingubi@amc.seoul.kr


Antidepressant prescription for youths has recently been on the increase. There is a growing concern over the increasing off-label usage of antidepressants. Current data on off-label antidepressant usage vary across countries and healthcare systems. Therefore, we examined the extent and pattern of antidepressant prescription for Korean children and adolescents using population-based data. Our data was retrieved from the Korean National Health Insurance Service National Sample Cohort of the year 2013. Among 0.2 million children and adolescents aged 6-18 years from the cohort, subjects who had received any antidepressant medication in the year 2013 were investigated for the prescribed medication, concomitant psychotropic medication, and the associated diagnosis. A total of 2,190 children and adolescents (boys, 55.4%) received antidepressant medication. The most common diagnosis was depressive disorders (n = 469, 21.4%), followed by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (n = 442, 20.2%). Among the prescriptions (n = 3,370), escitalopram (n = 650, 24.1%) and fluoxetine (n = 553, 20.5%) were the two most frequently prescribed drugs. A majority of prescriptions (n = 2,039, 60.5%) included concomitant psychotropic agents, consisting of antipsychotics (n = 901, 26.7%), sedatives (n = 263, 26.3%), medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (n = 822, 24.4%), and some others. Our study shows the prescription pattern of antidepressants for children and adolescents in Korea, of which a large proportion is off-label. The results call for close monitoring by clinicians treating this population.


Adolescent; Antidepressive Agents; Child; Off-label Use; Prescriptions

MeSH Terms

Antidepressive Agents*
Antipsychotic Agents
Cohort Studies
Delivery of Health Care
Depressive Disorder
Hypnotics and Sedatives
National Health Programs
Off-Label Use
Antidepressive Agents
Antipsychotic Agents
Hypnotics and Sedatives


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