depression suicide risk teens

Depression Drug, Suicide Link Reexamined

Teenagers are often more prone to experiencing signs and symptoms of depression, and the use of anti-depressants in this particular population has been the subject of much debate and study.

And while several drugs on the market are used to treat teens with depression, a study done in the early 00’s led to increased concern that the drugs enhanced the possibility of suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts. That in turn led to a high-level “black box” warning issued by the Food Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004 when concerns about the link between depression drugs in teens and suicide risk was probed.

However, subsequent clinical research has failed to replicate the study’s results, and more recent controlled studies contrasting certain depression medications with placebos showed no increased suicide risk with the former over the latter. According to rxDaily, Robert Gibbons, PhD, of the University of Chicago Medicine recently headed up a new analysis of 41 studies that encompassed more than 9,000 people and found no increased risk of suicide in young people medicated with common anti-depressants versus placebos. Gibbons explains:

“The key finding here, when we re-analyze all the patient-level longitudinal records in these studies, is that antidepressants neither increase nor decrease suicidal thoughts or behavior in children… 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 also surmises that the risk of suicide may be due to depression itself more commonly, and not the drugs used to treat the depression:

“Basically, the results say that the mechanism by which the antidepressants affect suicide rates is by decreasing depression. It follows that if a treatment is not working for an individual, the risk for suicidal behavior and perhaps worse remains high.”

Gibbons’ team’s analysis was published in the February 2012 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.