Researchers have discovered a disturbing correlation between teenagers who use antidepressants and suicide risk.
A review on the drugs duloxetine, fluoxetine (the active ingredient in Prozac), paroxetine, sertraline and venlafaxine, which are often prescribed as antidepressants, found that they increase the risk of suicide in teenagers. What’s more, pharmaceutical companies have failed to adequately report the side effects of the drugs, The Telegraph reports. The review was carried out by Nordic Cochrane Centre and analysed by University College London.
The study, the findings of which were published in BMJ (British Medical Journal), analysed 70 trials of common antidepressants involving more than 18,000 people and found that in people under the age of 18, the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviour was doubled.
A similar link was not seen in adults, but authors of the study revealed that this could be due to a misreporting by medical companies of trial data and “serious under-estimation of the harms”.
Lucie Russell, director of campaigns for YoungMinds, told The Telegraph, “This new study is deeply worrying, and it’s very concerning that some clinical trials have been misreported or poorly designed.
“Children and their parents must have solid and comprehensive information about the effects that antidepressants can have so they can make informed decisions about treatment.
“We believe that prescribing antidepressants should never be the only course of action”.
According to International Business Times, the review also found that four patient deaths had occurred in trials for an unnamed pharmaceutical company, but they had been misreported to have occurred after the termination of the trials. Over 50 per cent of suicide attempts and suicidal ideations had been recorded as a simple worsening of depression or emotional instability.
The U.K. is the seventh highest prescriber of antidepressants in the West — 4 million people choose the chemical treatment for their depression each year (about 6 per cent of the population). Iceland leads the way with nearly 12 per cent, according to IFL Science.
It is important to note that the NHS guidelines do state that antidepressants should not be given to people under the age of 18. However, it does suggest that they can be given to young people if therapy has not helped, Daily Mail reports.
“People in the United Kingdom are consuming more than four times as many antidepressants as they did two decades ago. Despite this, we still do not fully understand the effects of these drugs”, Dr Joanna Moncrieff from University College London said.
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there is help. Please call the Samaritans on 116 123, or visit www.samaritans.org.