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Antidepressants May Similarly Affect Suicide Risk In Children, Adolescents

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 13-Apr-2010

HealthDay reported that, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, "there appears to be no difference among antidepressants in raising a kid’s risk of suicidal thoughts." Harvard School of Public Health researchers "collected data on 20,906 children aged 10 to 18 who had been diagnosed with depression in British Columbia," after following the children for nine years. The young participants "were on a variety of commonly prescribed antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft)."

Medscape reported, "During the first 12 months of treatment, the researchers identified 266 attempted and three completed suicides — an event rate of 27.04 suicidal acts per 1000 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 23.9 – 30.5 suicidal acts per 1,000 person-years)." However, "they failed to see any significant differences in rate ratios (RRs) in analyses comparing fluoxetine with citalopram (RR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.54 – 1.76), fluvoxamine (RR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.46 – 2.43), paroxetine (RR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.47 – 1.37), and sertraline (RR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.56 – 1.84)."

Reuters interviewed Thomas Laughren, MD, director of the FDA’s Division of Psychiatry Products, who pointed out that clinicians need to closely follow young people on antidepressants due to the increased risk for suicide.

These reports underscore the importance of carefully monitoring people, especially young people, who are prescribed antidepressants. Doctors must be aware of all risks and benefits attendant to the drugs they prescribe, and must explain those risks and benefits to patients and, when appropriate, parents and guardians, so that the best medical decisions can be made.

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