Young adults not at risk of suicidal behavior from antidepressants

Jul 06, 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: National Cancer Institute supports next-generation Austrian HPV vaccine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Decrease in suicide not linked to newer antidepressants

Sep 29, 2010

Many researchers have studied the relationship between the increase in sales of new antidepressants in recent decades and a simultaneous decline in the suicide rate. In a study based on figures from the Nordic countries, ...

Are the monoamines involved in shaping conduct disorders?

Sep 13, 2009

Antisocial and aggressive behaviours represent a widespread and expensive social problem. Recent research has convincingly shown that there is a strong interaction between genetic inheritance and environment for development ...

SSRIs may reduce suicide in adults

Feb 02, 2009

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may reduce the risk of suicide in depressed adults, according to a study by researchers from the World Health Organization and the University of Verona, Italy published in CMAJ http:/ ...

Falls, depression and antidepressants in later life

Jun 18, 2008

Older people are at high risk for falls and subsequent injuries. Those who have depression have an increased risk of falls and the medications they take for depression increase their risk even more, New Zealand and Australian ...

UK: Suicide rates in young men at lowest levels since 1970s

Feb 15, 2008

The reasons for the steady decline in suicides among young people in the UK are explored in two studies by researchers from the University of Bristol published on bmj.com today. The studies were carried out in collaboration ...

Recommended for you

A new tool in drug overdose prevention

6 hours ago

The Center for Disease Control reported earlier this month that the heroin overdose death rate across 28 states it surveyed doubled between 2010 and 2012. This sharp increase and the chilling statistics that say more than 11 ...

Nasal spray treats heroin overdose

Oct 28, 2014

"Every year, drug overdoses are responsible for roughly 1000 ambulance calls in Oslo," says Arne Skulberg, an anaesthesiologist, a PhD candidate at NTNU and the 2014 winner of Norway's Researcher Grand Prix ...

User comments : 0

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.