Thursday, September 6, 2007

Increased suicide rate coincides with decreased antidepressant use?

So goes the headline. It's very difficult to determine causality for this sort of thing (ie. we can't conclude that decreased antidepressant use caused increase in suicides, since there are many other factors that lead someone to suicide), but there definitely seems to be a correlation that has been measured from multiple studies.

I'm just relieved that the study data support the current practice standards of using antidepressants for the depressed and suicidal (bipolar disorder is separate, and antidepressants are NOT recommended is those cases).

From sfgate:
In 2003 and 2004, the FDA issued a series of warnings that clinical trials had detected an increase in suicidal thinking among children and adolescents taking a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), compared with those given sugar pills. In late 2004, the agency called for a "black box" warning on the drugs to call attention to the potential risk, and expanded it last December to include young adults.
The warnings led to a broad decline in SSRI prescriptions for all patients younger than 60, Gibbons said. Prescription rates continued to rise among those older than 60, and this was the only group in which suicides dropped between 2003 and 2004, his study found.
The study included the Netherlands, which saw a 22 percent decrease in antidepressant use between 2003 and 2005. The suicide rate among youngsters there increased 49 percent in that period.

Previous studies have shown that U.S. suicide rates are lower in counties where antidepressant use is higher, and a study in July of more than 200,000 depressed veterans found that those taking an antidepressant had one-third the risk of suicide than those who were not.

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