Antidepressants and suicidal thought

Dodd, Seetal 2011, Antidepressants and suicidal thought, Current drug safety, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 114-114.

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Title Antidepressants and suicidal thought
Author(s) Dodd, SeetalORCID iD for Dodd, Seetal
Journal name Current drug safety
Volume number 6
Issue number 2
Start page 114
End page 114
Publisher Bentham Science Publishers
Place of publication San Francisco, Ca.
Publication date 2011-04
ISSN 1574-8863
Summary The association of antidepressants with suicidal thought in people aged up to 25 year is a thorny issue. Balancing risk with benefit must always be at the core of any decision to treat and when the risk is an increased risk of suicide then a balanced decision can be difficult to make. Some clinicians who have been successfully treating patients using antidepressants have felt skepticism with these studies, finding them to be not reflective of their personal clinical experience. It may be wondered by some whether highlighting the link between suicidal thoughts and antidepressants may paradoxically lead to an increase in suicide by reducing the number of cases treated, however there is no evidence that this has occurred.

The association between antidepressants and suicidal thought may be unpalatable, but as with all new research the only way it can be judged is by the evidence to support it. The weight of evidence to demonstrate the association between antidepressants and suicidal thought in young people is convincing although the risk is low, estimated at one case of emerging suicidal ideation or suicide attempt for every 143 pediatric patients treated [1]. This risk is too low to displace antidepressants as the first line of treatment for depression but is too high a risk to be ignored. The risk is also too low to be recognized based on clinical experience alone as it is low enough to be imperceptible amongst suicides which occur due to depressive illness independent of antidepressant treatment. Only large studies are sufficiently powered to detect suicidal thought associated with antidepressant treatment. Clearly further studies would be helpful, especially if they can help characterize those at greatest risk. This is why the study by Lucy Goldsmith and Joanna Moncrieff in this issue of Current Drug Safety is an important step towards improving our understanding of antidepressant safety. These researchers find a link between increased suicidal impulses and emotional blunting and emotional instability.

Treating clinicians are urged to monitor for risk of suicide after initiation of antidepressant treatment, typically more frequently for the first four weeks of treatment and as indicated thereafter. However, if there is no history of suicidal thought or attempt and the patient does not admit to suicidal thought, suicidality may be missed by the treating clinician, ending in tragedy. Studies that provide new insights into this serious problem may lead to improvements in the effectiveness of monitoring patients for suicide risk, ultimately leading to better outcomes for patients.
Language eng
Field of Research 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Research category C4.1 Letter or note
Copyright notice ©2011, Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.
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School of Medicine
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