Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Type of Antidepressant Doesn't Affect Teens' Risk for Suicide, Study Finds

Adolescents taking an antidepressant that is not FDA-approved to treat depression did not show any increase in suicide attempts compared with adolescents taking fluoxetine—the only FDA-approved antidepressant for patients in this age group. Researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, collected data from approximately 37,000 youth with major depressive disorder to compare the risk for suicidality among new users of fluoxetine with that for new users of other antidepressants that don't have FDA approval to treat depression in children or teens.

The results, reported in Pediatrics showed no significant difference in suicide attempts among participants prescribed fluoxetine and those prescribed non-FDA-recommended antidepressants for adolescent depression—such as sertraline and citalopram. However, youth taking multiple antidepressants concomitantly were two times more likely to attempt suicide than those with prescriptions for a single antidepressant.

David Fassler, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont, told Psychiatric News that “in considering these findings, it's important to note that the majority of child and adolescent suicide attempts never actually come to medical attention...[however,] these results may provide some degree of assurance for physicians and parents with respect to the choice of specific antidepressant medication.” Fassler, in agreement with the study’s authors, concluded that further research is needed to identify the mechanisms associated with antidepressant use and suicidal behaviors.

To read more about issues concerning suicidal behaviors and suicide rates in youth, see the Psychiatric News article “Teens’ Psychotic Symptoms Strongly Associated With Suicidal Behavior.” To read about the challenges clinicians face in preventing and managing suicidal behavior, see the American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Suicide Assessment and Management, Second Edition.

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