herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Link between antidepressants and child suicide

A warning about the link between antidepressants and suicide among children and young adults is to be upgraded by the Irish Medicines Board.

The decision has been prompted by a major review of clinical trials in both Europe and the US which have reinforced previous findings that widely used antidepressants can double the risk of suicidal behaviour in young people.

The IMB had previously issued warnings with product information leaflets but has now decided to revise the wording of these leaflets to reflect the latest information.

Leaflets will warn patients that they may have thoughts of "harming or killing yourself" and that these "may be increased when first starting antidepressants".

They will also warn healthcare professionals to closely supervise patients on these drugs "especially in early treatment".

The leaflets will specifically warn those under 25 about the increased risk, urging them to contact a doctor or "go to a hospital straight away" if they have thoughts of harming or killing themselves at any time.

Dr Michael Corry, a consultant psychiatrist who has studied Ireland's current suicide epidemic, strongly believes that it is linked to the over-prescribing of anti-depressants.

"Twenty per cent of suicides were found to have antidepressant medication in their bloodstream. What does that tell you? Unquestionably there is a link to the current suicide epidemic," says Dr Corry.

The US Food and Drugs Administration looked at 372 trials involving almost 100,000 patients. The overall conclusions were "consistent with that of the UK/EU review".

The FDA found an increased risk of suicide with antidepressant treatment in people up to the age of 25, which lessened after the age of 30 years.

csheehy@herald.ie

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