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Depression & Anxiety

From the Current Issue

New Research
No Increased Suicide Risk Seen With SSRIs

Suicide risk among patients taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or tricyclics is not significantly different, a new study shows.

The investigation, which used a British database including 3 million people, was conducted to examine the relationship between the use of SSRIs and suicidal thoughts and attempts. Anecdotal evidence has linked the drugs to suicidal behavior, especially among teens.

The researchers compared 2,062 nonsuicidal patients who were prescribed the tricyclics amitriptyline (Elavil) or dothiepin (available in the United Kingdom) or the SSRIs fluoxetine (Prozac) or paroxetine (Paxil) to 555 patients who experienced suicidal thoughts or behaviors for the first time after being prescribed one of the drugs.

Although there was no significant difference in the risk of suicidal behavior among patients on tricyclics and SSRIs, the risk of suicidal behavior was increased during the first month of starting any of the drugs, particularly in the first one to nine days.

The most likely explanation for the increased risk, the researchers say, is the fact that the drugs can take several weeks to begin working. It is also possible, but not as likely, that the drugs themselves initially worsened depression.

Journal of the American
Medical Association
Volume 292, page 338
July 21, 2004


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