Do Antidepressants Increase Risk of Suicide?

It is estimated that in the United States a person commits suicide every 15 minutes and each day more than 100 people take their own lives. Could antidepressant medications increase the risk of suicide?

Every year, more than 253 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled in the U.S., making them the second most prescribed drug class in the country (second only to cholesterol-lowering drugs).

According to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people take antidepressants to treat depression, as well as anxiety and other stress related disorders. About 8 percent of these people who take antidepressant drugs have no current symptoms of depression.

Actor and comedien Robin Williams’ autopsy showed that he had two types of antidepressants in his system when he died, in addition to his Parkinson’s medication. It was also alleged that he had superficial cuts on his wrist, and a pocketknife was found nearby. The coroner ruled Williams’ death a suicide, which resulted from asphyxia due to hanging.

It was further confirmed that Williams had “therapeutic” levels of the tetra-cyclic antidepressant mirtazapine (Remeron) in his blood at the time of his suicide, according to the coroner’s report on his death. According to the black box warning on its label, mirtazapine was shown to increase suicidal tendencies in adults under age 24.

Drug companies are not forced to publish all the results of their studies. They only publish those they want to. The team of researchers that reported their findings in The New England Journal of Medicine took a critical look at all the studies done on antidepressants, both published and unpublished. They dug up some serious dirt…

The unpublished studies were not easy to find. The researchers had to search the FDA databases, call researchers, and try to recover hidden data under the Freedom of Information Act.

After reviewing 74 studies involving 12 drugs and more than 12,000 people, they discovered that 37 of 38 trials with positive results were published, while only 14 of 36 negative studies were published. Those that showed negative results were, in the words of the researchers, “published in a way that conveyed a positive outcome.” This means the results implied that the drugs worked when they didn’t.

Patients should be made aware of the all of the potential side effects when prescribed a medication. Most drugs have side effects, but if the benefits do not outweigh the risks, other options should be explored.

If you or a loved one has suffered adverse effects as a result of a prescribed antidepressant, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for more info.

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