Since 2004, the Food and Drug Administration has warned that usage of antidepressants may increase youth suicide risk for children and young adults up until the age of 25, but a new study suggests that this may not be the case.
According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, there is no increase in suicide or suicidal thoughts in youths who take antidepressants such as Prozac. The researchers analyzed data from 41 clinical trials involving a total of more than 9,000 patients, and found no link to an increase in suicidal thoughts or actions.
Following the FDA’s announcement in 2004, the administration mandated that a “black-box” warning be placed on antidepressants, warning of the possible increased risk of suicide. This prompted many doctors to stop prescribing antidepressants to youths under the age of 25.
“I hope that the [black box] warnings will not prevent depressed children and adults from getting treatment for depression,” said first author Robert Gibbons, a professor of medicine, health studies and psychiatry at the University of Chicago.
“The greatest cause of suicide is untreated or undiagnosed depression,” he added. “It’s very important that this condition be recognized and appropriately treated and not discarded because doctors are afraid to be sued.”
According to the data, adults who were taking the antidepressants fluoxetine or venlafaxin saw a decreased risk of suicidal thoughts. The children, who were fluoxetine (Prozac), showed no increase or decrease in suicidal thoughts. Going by the data, Gibbons believes that antidepressants affect children differently than adults with regard to suicidal thoughts.
“Maybe children think about suicide in part because of depression, but also maybe due to other reasons not related to depression that are not affected by antidepressants,” Gibbons said.