(HealthDay News) — Teen suicide attempts rose nearly 22% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned about dangers of antidepressants, a new study finds. The report was published June 18 in BMJ online.
Christine Lu, of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston, and colleagues used the Mental Health Research Network to collect medical claims data from 11 U.S. health plans from 2000–2010. This database includes records for 1.1 million teens, 1.4 million young adults and 5 million adults. To measure suicide attempts, the researchers used records of overdose with mind-altering drugs, such as marijuana, amphetamines, tranquilizers and Ecstasy.
In 2003, the FDA mandated a “black box” warning on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), signaling a possible risk of suicidal thoughts among children and teens. Antidepressant use dropped more than 20% after the warning was issued. For adults – who weren’t included in the warnings – antidepressant use went down by more than 14%, according to the study. The researchers found that suicide attempts rose 21.7% among teens and 33.7% among young adults.
The FDA now recommends that doctors consider both the risk of prescribing an antidepressant and the risk of not prescribing the drug. Doctors should also monitor patients for suicidal thoughts. Undertreating depression is worse than the slight increase in suicidal thoughts antidepressants may cause, Lu told HealthDay. “It’s also a reminder for doctors to weigh the risk of a drug with the risk of not treating or undertreating the condition,” she said.