Researchers from the Weill Cornell College of Psychiatry followed 757 patients for 27 years to examine the long-term impact of antidepressants on suicide risk. They found that antidepressants reduced suicidal behavior—attempted or successful suicides—in participants by 20 percent.
Talk to your doctor about the benefits of antidepressants.
The scientists said these findings are especially important in light of a 2007 U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning that antidepressants can actually increase suicide risk in patients up to age 25. The FDA added a “black box warning” to the medications’ packaging to warn of this risk after reviewing clinical trials of certain antidepressants.
This recent study better represents the population of people who are on antidepressants, researchers say, by including patients who are more severely mentally ill than in the clinical trials. Lead author of the study is Andrew C. Leon, professor of biostatistics in psychiatry and professor of public health at Weill Cornell.
However, patients, and particularly young people, still need to be watched carefully after starting to take antidepressants, the researchers said.
The FDA warning states that children and adolescents taking certain antidepressants should be monitored for symptoms of worsening depression, suicidal thoughts or unusual changes in behavior.
The study appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.