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Link Between Antidepressant Treatment and Increased Risk of Suicide


Link Between Antidepressant Treatment and Increased Risk of Suicide
30 May 2004   
Source: Medical News Today

Depression is a serious illness that increases the risk of suicide. This March, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory in response to a possible connection between the antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil) and thoughts of suicide or self-destructive behavior in some teens and children. The June issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter discusses the FDA advisory and offers suggestions to people taking antidepressants.

The advisory targeted ten antidepressants in addition to Paxil and urged drug companies to add a prominent warning to their labels calling for close observation of anyone starting or changing the dose of an antidepressant. Although no suicides were reported in Britain where the connection between Paxil and suicide was first noted, the FDA decided to act conservatively while preparing to investigate the issue further.

According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, if you’re considering antidepressant medication, you should first be fully evaluated by your doctor. Also consult your doctor about all possible treatments for depression, including medications and psychotherapy.

If you already have an antidepressant treatment established, do not change a thing. Additionally, talk to your doctor before stopping your medications because you can develop uncomfortable discontinuation symptoms.

Dr. Michael Miller, the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, believes that if all patients and doctors heed recommendations from the FDA advisory, antidepressant treatment will be much safer. Dr. Miller also notes that this warning should not be interpreted as a reason to fear medication or reject them entirely. In many cases, the risks of depression are much greater than the risks of antidepressants.

The Harvard Mental Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of the Harvard Medical School. You can subscribe to Harvard Mental Health Letter for $59 per year at or by calling 1-877-649-9457 toll-free.

About Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Health Publications, a division of Harvard Medical School, publishes five monthly newsletters as well as more than 50 special health reports and books.

For more information visit our Web site,

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