Patients at Greatest Risk of Self-Harm Right After Starting Antidepressants: Study

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From Axios: “Patients who take antidepressants are at highest risk of harming themselves in the weeks immediately after the drug is prescribed, according to a new analysis of more than 8.4 million electronic health records.

Why it matters: The Food and Drug Administration has warned since 2004 that antidepressants can increase suicidal behavior, but little is known about when the potential threat is greatest, researchers wrote.

. . . The details: The report from the research arm of electronic health records company Epic looked at data between 2017 and 2022 of patients with no history of self-harm or suicide attempts prior to being on antidepressants.

  • The analysis doesn’t breakdown types of self-harm, which can include but is not limited to attempted suicide.
  • The 12-to-17 age group had the highest rate of self-harm at 0.39% and were nearly five times more likely to report a self-harm event in the first few months of being prescribed antidepressants compared to the general population.
  • Teen girls, who the CDC in February found are experiencing record levels of sadness and violence, were especially at risk of self-harm.
  • Men in the 18-to-24 age group, were slightly more likely to harm themselves than women the same age.
  • Active antidepressant prescriptions also doubled between 2017 and 2022, signaling the increased use of depression treatment during the pandemic.”

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