In short-duration clinical studies, it did appear that there was a slightly increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults aged 24 and younger who took antidepressants, including Lexapro. In one study, about 4 percent of children, adolescents, and young adults taking an antidepressant had suicidal thoughts or behavior, compared to 2 percent of those who were not taking an antidepressant.
An increased risk for suicidality was not seen in people beyond the age of 25. In fact, people aged 65 and older given an antidepressant appeared to have a reduced risk for suicidal thinking and behavior compared to those not given an antidepressant.
The antidepressant studies looked at all suicidal behavior, including completed suicides, attempted suicides, and thoughts about committing suicide. The term suicidality was used to describe thoughts and behaviors related to suicide. It is important to note that none of the children and adolescents in the study actually committed suicide.
It is difficult to know for sure if there is a link between the use of antidepressants, such as Lexapro, and suicide or suicidal thoughts and behavior. To make matters more confusing, depression itself, as well as other mental health conditions antidepressants are used to treat, can cause suicidal behavior. The bottom line is that you should report any signs of suicidal behavior to your healthcare professional, regardless of whether or not you are taking an antidepressant.
Certain people seem to be at a higher risk of suicidal behavior while taking antidepressants. This includes people with bipolar disorder (or a family history of bipolar disorder) and people who have attempted suicide (or have a family history of suicide attempts).
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Lexapro [package insert]. St. Louis, MO: Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.;2012 December.
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. Medication Guide for Antidepressant Drugs. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm100211.pdf. Accessed October 11, 2010.
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