Antidepressants not Linked to Declined Suicide Rates

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Researchers have spent a great deal of time studding the relationship between the increase in sales of new antidepressants in recent decades and a decline in the suicide rate. In a study based on figures from the Nordic countries, the researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found no evidence antidepressants are in any way linked to declined suicide rates.

Reduced sales of antidepressants not linked to reduction in suicide rates

In addition to these finds, researchers did not find any relationship between reduced sales of the older and more toxic antidepressants and a reduction in suicide rates either. The suicide rate has been declining since the end of the 1980s for many Western countries, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

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In 1990, the new SSRI drugs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) became available on the market. Sales figures for these new antidepressant drugs have increased annually, whereas sales of the older TCA drugs (tricyclic anti-depressants) have declined substantially.

This news comes at a time when the FDA now has to require manufacturers of all antidepressants to add black box warnings to their product labeling. A "black box" warning is the most serious warning placed on the labeling of a prescription medication, but does not ban physicians from prescribing the drug.

Researchers wanted to assess the impact of antidepressants on suicide so they asked, “Can a significant increase in sales of SSRIs in any one year be related to a sharp decline in the suicide rate in the same year?” and “Can the decline in sales of TCAs be related to the decrease in the suicide rate?”

The study concluded that no, antidepressants and a reduction in suicide rates are not related. In a previous study by the researchers, a correlation between the increase in sales figures for SSRIs and the decrease in suicide rate in Norway at the beginning of the 1990s was observed and it was suggested that this could be explained by the fact that fewer people used TCAs to commit suicide.

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