Prozac and Suicide
In short-duration clinical studies, it did appear that there was a slightly increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (called suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults up to the age of 25 who took antidepressants, including Prozac. 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.
There did not appear to be an increased risk for suicidality in people over the age of 24 treated with antidepressants. In fact, people aged 65 and older taking an antidepressant appeared to have a lower risk for suicidality than those not taking an antidepressant.
The FDA-reviewed studies looked at all suicidal behavior, including completed suicides, attempted suicides, and thoughts about committing suicide. The term suicidality was used to describe thoughts or behaviors that appeared to be related to suicide. However, it is important to note that no children or adolescent in the FDA-reviewed studies actually committed suicide.
It is difficult to know for sure if antidepressants cause suicidal behavior. To make matters more confusing, depression itself (and other mental health conditions) can cause such behavior. The bottom line is this: You should report any signs of suicidal thinking or behavior to your healthcare professional, whether you are taking an antidepressant or not.
Certain people seem to be at higher risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior while taking antidepressants. This includes people with bipolar disorder (or a family history of bipolar disorder) and people who have attempted suicide (or who have a family history of suicide attempts).
Your healthcare provider should monitor you (or your child or loved one) carefully when first starting an antidepressant like Prozac, or whenever the dose is increased. You should also be watchful for any signs of suicidal behavior. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you (or your child or loved one) have any of the following:
- Thoughts about death or committing suicide
- Suicide attempts
- Depression or anxiety that is new or worse
- Agitation, restlessness, or panic attacks
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Irritability that is new or worse
- Aggressive, angry, or violent behavior
- Acting on dangerous impulses
- Unusually increased talking or activity
- Other strange changes in mood or behavior.
Also contact your healthcare provider if you notice any other symptoms or behaviors that concern you. Do not stop taking an antidepressant without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant suddenly may cause other potentially dangerous reactions, including worsening depression.
Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of using Prozac with your healthcare provider. Depression is a treatable illness. Your healthcare provider can discuss all the available treatment options with you, and may be able to recommend other options for depression treatment.