Fetzima and Suicide

More Information on Suicide and Fetzima

The FDA black box warning is based on a review of several short-term clinical studies that showed young people under the age of 24 who took antidepressants appeared to have more suicidal thoughts and actions than those who did not take antidepressants. For example, in one study, about 4 percent of children, teens, and young adults who took an antidepressant had suicidal thoughts and actions, compared to 2 percent of those not taking an antidepressant.
 
This increased risk for suicidal thoughts and actions was not seen in people over the age of 24. Interestingly, the risk was reduced in adults aged 65 and older.
 
The FDA looked at all suicidal behavior in these studies, including thoughts about suicides, talking about suicide, attempting suicides, and actual completed suicides. It is important to point out that none of the children or adolescents actually committed suicide in the clinical studies reviewed by the FDA.
 
It is difficult to know for sure if antidepressants cause suicidality. Depression and other serious mental health problems also cause suicidal behavior, and it can be difficult to distinguish the effects of the illness from the effects of the medication. Certainly untreated depression and other mental illness are the most significant causes of suicidal thinking and behavior.
 
The risk for suicidal thoughts and actions are thought to be highest at the beginning of antidepressant treatment or when the dose is increased or decreased. Also, certain people may be at a higher risk for suicidal behavior when taking antidepressants, including:
 
  • People with bipolar disorder
  • People with a family history of bipolar disorder
  • People who have attempted suicide in the past or have a family history of suicide attempts.  
 

What to Watch For

Everyone treated with an antidepressant should be carefully monitored for any symptoms that may indicate they are at risk for suicidal behavior, especially in the first few months of treatment and after any dose changes. If you or someone you love is taking an antidepressant, such as Fetzima, it is very important that you know exactly what types of behaviors to look out for as possible warning signs.

The following is a list of symptoms that should be reported immediately to your (or your loved one's) healthcare provider:
 
  • Thoughts about death or suicide
  • Attempts to commit suicide
  • New or worsening depression
  • New or worsening anxiety or panic attacks
  • Aggressive, angry, hostile, or violent behavior
  • Acting on dangerous impulses
  • Agitation, restlessness, or irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Unusual increases in activity or talking
  • Any other unusual changes in mood or behavior.
 
Do not stop taking an antidepressant without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant suddenly may cause other potentially dangerous problems, including worsening depression.  
 
Depression is a treatable illness. If you are concerned about the risks of suicidality with Fetzima and other antidepressants, talk to your healthcare provider (or your child's healthcare provider). Your healthcare provider can discuss all the available treatment options with you and help you make the best decision for your (or your loved one's) depression treatment.
 
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Fetzima Medication Information

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