Teens Lives Matter –
May 30, 2019 –
SSRIs and Suicidal Ideation in Teens
Parents whose children are suffering from depression often ask doctors for advice about the safest antidepressant for teenagers. However, research shows that antidepressants may actually increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, teenagers, and young adults under 25. The highest risk is in the first few weeks after an adolescent begins taking the drug, or after the dosage is changed.
A review study looked at the question, how do SSRIs work? Researchers examined 24 studies involving 4,400 teens and young adults. The review compared the rate of suicidal thoughts among participants taking an antidepressant and participants who were given a placebo. Researchers found that the likelihood of having suicidal thoughts doubled for those taking antidepressants, including SSRIs—from 2 percent to 4 percent. (No participants in the study committed suicide.)
As a result, in 2004, the FDA began requiring that all antidepressants include a “black box warning” on package inserts for the drug. Short of withdrawing a drug from the market, a black box warning is the FDA’s strongest available measure. The warning for antidepressants mentions the increased risk of teen suicidal ideation. In addition, it mentions the potential for increased hostility and agitation in children, adolescents, and young adults.