High doses of antidepressants appear to increase risk of self-harm in children young adult
MEDICAL PRESS: Children and young adults who start antidepressant therapy at high doses, rather than the “modal” [average or typical] prescribed doses, appear to be at greater risk for suicidal behavior during the first 90 days of treatment.
A previous meta-analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of antidepressant trials suggested that children who received antidepressants had twice the rate of suicidal ideation and behavior than children who were given a placebo. The authors of the current study sought to examine suicidal behavior and antidepressant dose, and whether risk depended on a patient’s age.
The study used data from 162,625 people (between the ages of 10 to 64 years) with depression who started antidepressant treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor at modal (the most prescribed doses on average) or at higher than modal doses from 1998 through 2010.
The rate of suicidal behavior (deliberate self-harm or DSH) among children and adults (24 years or younger) who started antidepressant therapy at high doses was about twice as high compared with a matched group of patients who received generally prescribed doses. The authors suggest this corresponds to about one additional event of DSH for every 150 patients treated with high-dose therapy. For adults 25 to 64 years old, the difference in risk for suicidal behavior was null. The study does not address why higher doses might lead to higher suicide risk.