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Antidepressants and the Risk of Suicide in Children

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

There appears to be no difference among antidepressants as they all raise a youngster’s risk of suicidal thoughts, according to a new long-term study in Pediatrics. The research supports the FDA decision in 2004 to mandate a “black box” on all antidepressants for increased suicidality risk in children and adolescents who take the meds and answers the question about which med carries the most risk, HealthDay writes.

The FDA showed a doubling in the risk of suicidal ideation among kids taking antidepressants, compared with placebo, he notes, but adds the FDA analysis didn’t specify which meds were used, so there was no way to tell whether there were differences in risk. “Physicians need to know if there is an agent where the risk is reduced or particularly elevated,” he tells HealthDay. The report is published in the April 12 online edition of Pediatrics (subscription required).

Data was collected on 20,906 youngster aged 10 to 18 who were diagnosed with depression in British Columbia. They were followed for nine years and were on several commonly prescribed antidepressants, including Celexa, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft.

In the first year after starting treatment, there were 266 suicide attempts and three completed suicides. However, no significant difference in attempted or completed suicides was noted based on which antidepressant was taken. 

The two key symptoms of depression are a depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed. Besides these two key symptoms, a few other depression symptoms include restlessness and irritability, thoughts of death or suicide, and feelings of hopelessness and pessimism. It is important to keep in mind that people suffering from depression cannot simply "pull themselves together." Symptoms of depression can last for weeks, months, or years. 

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