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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

High Antidepressant Dose Linked to Suicidal Behaviors in Teens

  • Jim Liebelt
    Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
  • 2014 May 05
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A new study finds the risk for deliberate self harm doubles when depressed young people start treatment with higher than usual doses of antidepressant medications.

The Food and Drug Administration has for years required antidepressants to carry warnings that they may increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adults under age 25.

The new finding is one more reason for doctors and families to carefully consider how and whether to use the medications in young people, researchers say.

"One can quibble about how much benefit there is at typical doses, and my sense is that the benefit is modest at best," says the study's lead author, Matthew Miller, a physician at the Harvard School of Public Health. "But there's no evidence that higher initial doses are going to help more than lower doses." Instead, he says, higher doses may only add risk.

For the study, Miller and colleagues looked at the health records of 162,625 privately insured people ages 10 to 64 treated for depression with three popular antidepressants best known by the brand names Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft.

They compared otherwise similar patients — based on the intensity of their depression symptoms, previous self harm and other factors — who got either typical starting doses or higher doses.

Result: After a year, children, teens and young adults were twice as likely to engage in deliberate self harm if they started at higher doses. Such acts were especially common in the first three months. No such link between starting dose and self harm was found in adults 25 and up. The risk for self harm was 1.4% at typical doses and a 3.1% at higher doses.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Source: USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/28/antidepressants-youth-suicide/8411117/