Young adults not at risk of suicidal behavior from antidepressants

July 6, 2007

Antidepressants lower the risk of suicide attempt in adults with depression, according to a study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. The researchers also found that the lower risk held true for young adults ages 18 to 25.

"The risk of suicide attempt among depressed patients treated with SSRI drugs was about one-third that of patients who were not treated with an SSRI," said the lead author Robert Gibbons, director of the Center for Health Statistics and professor of biostatistics and psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "We would not expect a lower risk in this patient population because patients treated with SSRIs are generally more severely depressed and would have a higher risk of suicide attempt."

The researchers analyzed medical data of 226,866 patients newly diagnosed with depression in 2003 or 2004 at the Veterans Administration healthcare system. They compared risk of suicide in four age groups (ages 18 to 25; 26 to 45; 46 to 65; and older than 65) before and after treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications, also known as SSRI drugs.

All age groups of depressed patients who received selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors -- the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medication -- showed a significantly lower risk of suicide attempt when compared to those who did not receive antidepressant treatment.

Among 82,828 patients, there were 183 suicide attempts before treatment with SSRI drugs and 102 suicide attempts after treatment with SSRI drugs (a rate that fell from 221 to 123 per 100,000 after treatment).

In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration issued a black box warning suggesting that SSRI drugs increase the risk of suicidal behavior in children and adolescents. An FDA advisory committee recently recommended extending this black box warning to young adults.

Gibbons cautions that extending this warning to young adults may further decrease antidepressant treatment of depression and contribute to higher rates of suicide.

In previous research, Gibbons reported an inverse relationship between antidepressant prescriptions and the rates of suicide in children and adolescents.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago

Explore further: Most patients need several sequential treatment steps for remission of major depression

Related Stories

Most patients need several sequential treatment steps for remission of major depression

December 19, 2011
Major depressive disorder is a major public health problem that affects 7% of the population during any 12-month period and affects around 1 in 6 people throughout their lifetime. A Seminar published Online First by the Lancet ...

Suicide risk doesn't differ in children taking two types of commonly prescribed antidepressants

January 6, 2014
A Vanderbilt University Medical Center study released today shows there is no evidence that the risk of suicide differs with two commonly prescribed antidepressants prescribed to children and adolescents.

Antidepressants may raise risk for pregnancy complication

March 23, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Pregnant women taking the antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) face a slightly increased risk of developing dangerously high blood pressure, Canadian researchers report.

Toxoplasma gondii parasite may trigger suicide attempts

August 16, 2012
A parasite thought to be harmless and found in many people may actually be causing subtle changes in the brain, leading to suicide attempts.

CBT, SSRIs effectively cut anxiety symptoms in childhood

September 5, 2017
(HealthDay)—Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective for reducing symptoms of anxiety in childhood, according to a review published online Aug. 31 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Antidepressants double the risk of aggression and suicide in children

January 27, 2016
Children and adolescents have a doubled risk of aggression and suicide when taking one of the five most commonly prescribed antidepressants, according to findings of a study published in The BMJ today.

Recommended for you

Drug for spinal muscular atrophy prompts ethical dilemmas, bioethicists say

December 11, 2017
When the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug for people with spinal muscular atrophy a year ago, clinicians finally had hope for improving the lives of patients with the rare debilitating muscular disease. ...

FDA's program to speed up drug approval shaved nearly a year off the process

December 7, 2017
Speeding the pace at which potentially lifesaving drugs are brought to market was a rallying cry for Donald Trump as a candidate, and is a stated priority of his Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. ...

Dangers of commonly prescribed painkillers highlighted in study

December 6, 2017
Commonly prescribed painkillers need to be given for shorter periods of time to reduce the risk of obesity and sleep deprivation, a new study has revealed.

Viagra goes generic: Pfizer to launch own little white pill

December 6, 2017
The little blue pill that's helped millions of men in the bedroom is turning white. Drugmaker Pfizer is launching its own cheaper generic version of Viagra rather than lose most sales when the impotence pill gets its first ...

Surgery-related opioid doses can drop dramatically without affecting patients' pain

December 6, 2017
Some surgeons might be able to prescribe a third of opioid painkiller pills that they currently give patients, and not affect their level of post-surgery pain control, a new study suggests.

Four-fold jump in deaths in opioid-driven hospitalizations

December 4, 2017
People who end up in the hospital due to an opioid-related condition are four times more likely to die now than they were in 2000, according to research led by Harvard Medical School and published in the December issue of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.