New FDA Report: SSRI Antidepressants Raise Suicide Risks in Young Adults

n a new report released yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that the use of antidepressants may increase suicidal thoughts and behavior in young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. The FDA analyzed data from 372 studies, which together included roughly 100,000 patients and 11 different modern drugs. The information was released in advance of next week’s public meeting of the FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee.

The December 13 meeting is a follow-up to two meetings that took place in 2004. In those meetings, the panel discussed the connection between antidepressants and suicidal behavior in pediatric patients. Previous findings had shown an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents that was associated with the use of antidepressants.

In their new meta-analysis, FDA researchers found that the increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior exhibited by young adults under the age of 25 was close to that of younger patients. According to the data, the risk of suicidal behavior in the 18-to-24 age group more than doubled when treated with antidepressants. However, the effects of the drugs were much more positive among older patients. Those over the age of 65 were found to have a significant reduction in suicidal thoughts and behavior. The results were basically neutral for the 25-to-64 age group.

According to the FDA summary, “When results are analyzed by age it becomes clear that there is an elevated risk for suicidality [thoughts and ideas] and suicidal behavior among adults younger than 25 years of age that approaches that seen in the pediatric population. The net effect appears to be neutral on suicidal behavior but possibly protective for suicidality for adults between the ages of 25 and 64 and to reduce the risk of both suicidality and suicidal behavior in subjects aged 65 years and older.”

There is apparently a strong correlation between age and suicidal thoughts and behavior in antidepressant patients. Analysis has shown that the older the patient, the more protective the drugs are, although researchers have not determined the reasons behind that fact.

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