In reviewing various studies on suicide and antidepressants, it appears that the medications may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in certain age groups. They do not appear to increase these risks in adults over age 24. As a result, the FDA has given antidepressants "black box" warnings -- the most serious type of warning found on a prescription drug's labeling.
Antidepressants and Suicide: The FDA Weighs In
Following a thorough and comprehensive review of all the available published and unpublished controlled clinical trials of antidepressants, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public about an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior (known as "suicidality") in children, adolescents, and young adults treated with antidepressant medications.
The FDA reviewed 372 studies that included more than 99,800 people. In their review, the FDA compared suicidal symptoms in people taking antidepressants with those taking a placebo (a sugar pill with no active ingredients). Based on this review, it appears that antidepressants increase the risk of suicidality in children, adolescents, and young adults (age 18 to 24 years old). However, antidepressants do not appear to increase the risk in adults over age 24, and they actually seem to lower the risk in older adults (age 65 and older).
It is important to note that the term "suicidality" is not the same as "suicide." There were no actual suicides in any of the child or adolescent antidepressant studies reviewed by the FDA. There were a small number of suicides in the adult studies. However, these suicides occurred both in people taking antidepressants and in people taking a placebo.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
See the articles for specific antidepressants within eMedTV for complete reference information.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. FDA proposes new warnings about suicidal thinking, behavior in young adults who take antidepressant medications (5/2/2007). FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01624.html. Accessed April 22, 2008.
Friedman RA, Leon AC. Expanding the Black Box -- Depression, Antidepressants, and the Risk of Suicide. NEJM 2007; 356: 2343-46.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Revisions to Product Labeling. Suicidality and Antidepressants. Available at http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/informationbydrugclass/ucm096273.htm. Accessed September 3, 2010.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Medication Guide for Antidepressant Drugs. Available at http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/informationbydrugclass/ucm096273.htm. Accessed September 3, 2010.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind.
Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click