Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New UCLA study disputes antidepressant/suicide link

03.02.2005


Scientists fear rise in deaths from untreated depression



Challenging recent claims linking antidepressant use to suicidal behavior, a new UCLA study shows that American suicide rates have dropped steadily since the introduction of Prozac and other serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs. Published in the February edition of the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, the authors caution that regulatory actions to limit SSRI prescriptions may actually increase death rates from untreated depression, the No. 1 cause of suicide.

"The recent debate has focused solely on a possible link between antidepressant use and suicide risk without examining the question within a broader historical and medical context," explained Dr. Julio Licinio, a professor of psychiatry and endocrinology at the David Geffen School of Medicine and a researcher at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. "We feared that the absence of treatment may prove more harmful to depressed individuals than the effects of the drugs themselves."


"The vast majority of people who commit suicide suffer from untreated depression," he added. "We wanted to explore a possible SSRI-suicide link while ensuring that effective treatment and drug development for depression were not halted without cause."

Licinio worked with fellow psychiatrist Dr. Ma-Ling Wong to conduct an exhaustive database search of studies published between 1960 and 2004 on antidepressants and suicide. The team reviewed each piece of research in great detail and created a timeline of key regulatory events related to antidepressants. Then they generated charts tracking antidepressant use and suicide rates in the United States.

What they found surprised them.

"Suicide rates rose steadily from 1960 to 1988 when Prozac, the first SSRI drug, was introduced," said Licinio. "Since then, suicide rates have dropped precipitously, sliding from the 8th to the 11th leading cause of death in the United States."

Several large-scale studies in the United States and Europe also screened blood samples from suicide victims and found no association between antidepressant use and suicide.

"Researchers found blood antidepressant levels in less than 20 percent of suicide cases," said Licinio. "This implies that the vast majority of suicide victims never received treatment for their depression."

"Our findings strongly suggest that these individuals who committed suicide were not reacting to their SSRI medication," he added. "They actually killed themselves due to untreated depression. This was particularly true in men and in people under 30."

Licinio and Wong fear that overzealous regulatory and medical reaction, public confusion and widespread media coverage may persuade people to stop taking antidepressants altogether. They warn that this would result in a far worse situation by causing a drop in treatment for people who actually need it.

The UCLA study also looked at other reasons that may contribute to suicidal behavior by people taking SSRIs for depression.

Before the introduction of SSRIs, patients taking early drug treatments for depression were susceptible to overdoses and serious side effects, such as irregular heart rates and blood pressure increases. As a result, doctors prescribed the drugs in small doses and followed patients closely.

In contrast, toxic side effects are rare in SSRIs. Physicians often prescribe the drugs in larger doses and may not see the patient again for up to two months. This scenario, Licinio warns, can set the stage for suicide risk.

"When people start antidepressant therapy, the first symptom to be alleviated is low energy, but the feeling that life isn’t worth living is the last to go," he said. "Prior to taking SSRIs, depressed people may not have committed suicide due to their extreme lethargy. As they begin drug therapy, they experience more energy, but still feel that life isn’t worth living. That’s when a depressed person is most in danger of committing suicide."

Licinio stresses the need for even closer monitoring of SSRI use by children.

"The only antidepressant proven to be effective for treating children with depression is Prozac," he said. "Children should receive Prozac only and should be followed very closely by their physicians during treatment."

Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mednet.ucla.edu
http://www.npi.ucla.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>