An open-label pilot study of St. John's wort in juvenile depression

Robert L Findling, Nora K. McNamara, Mary Ann O'Riordan, Michael D. Reed, Christine A. Demeter, Lisa A. Branicky, Jeffrey L. Blumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: This pilot study examined the effectiveness, safety, tolerability, and pharmacodynamics of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort) in the treatment of youths diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Method: Youths 6 to 16 years of age meeting DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder with depressive symptoms of at least moderate severity were eligible to enroll between January 1999 and January 2001 in this 8-week, prospective, open-label, outpatient study. Outcome measures included the Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R) and the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) scale. A priori criteria for response consisted of a CDRS-R score of ≤28 and a CGI severity score ≤2. Patients were initially prescribed 150 mg St. John's wort three times daily. If at the end of week 4 the patient did not meet a priori response criteria, the dose was increased to 300 mg three times daily. Results: Thirty-three youths with a mean (SD) age of 10.5 (2.9) years were enrolled. After 4 weeks of St. John's wort therapy, 22 youths had their dose increased to 900 mg/day. Twenty-five of the patients met response criteria after 8 weeks of treatment. Overall, St. John's wort was well tolerated. Conclusion: St. John's wort may be an effective treatment for youths diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Placebo controlled trials seem indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-914
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes



  • Depression
  • Hypericum perforatum
  • St. John's wort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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