Wednesday, December 20, 2006

FDA antidepressant warning

It looks as if the FDA will proceed with plans to expand the “black box warning” to include warning that SSRI antidepressant use may increase or cause suicidality in individuals taking them, up to the age of 24.

Black box warnings are boldly outlined caution boxes included in drug package inserts and the PDR about life-threatening side-effects of medications. This decision is based in large part on anecdotal evidence presented at recent hearings in which survivors of individual’s who had died by suicide testified while showing pictures of loved ones.

This decision was made despite the several well done studies that have in fact demonstrated an inverse relationship between SSRI antidepressant use and suicidality. Depression treatment with antidepressants cut suicide risk.

Yes, some individuals may experience an increase of agitation and suicidal thoughts with starting antidepressants, but with careful and thoughtful follow-up and treatment this is a minimal risk and easily addressed.

Let’s hope that no one needing these medications declines that treatment based on this “warning”. Antidepressants are very useful and beneficial medications (realizing that they are often just one facet of a complete care plan). Antidepressants save lives.

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