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Findings from the SPCR funded study published in the BMJ on 18 February indicate that some types of antidepressants may be associated with an increase in suicide and self-harm in people aged 20 to 64 suffering from depression.

Some antidepressants may be associated with an increase in suicide and self harm

Lead investigator Dr Carol Coupland, and researchers at the University of Nottingham's Division of Primary Care and University of Southampton’s Primary Care and Population Sciences Unit, assessed the associations between different antidepressant treatments and the rates of suicide or self harm in people with depression. They found that rates of suicide and self harm were highest during the first 28 days after starting treatment and remained high in the first 28 days after treatment on the anti-depressants had ended.

Rates of suicide and self harm were similar during periods of treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants, but were higher for the group of other antidepressant drugs, with mirtazapine, venlafaxine, and trazodone being associated with the highest risks.

The results indicate that patients taking antidepressant drugs should be carefully monitored, especially during early treatment with antidepressants and when stopping treatment.

The Times article "Prescription drugs linked to suicide risk"

The University of Nottingham press release.

The BMJ article: Antidepressant use and risk of suicide and attempted suicide or self harm in people aged 20 to 64: cohort study using a primary care database