Antidepressants and the Tangle of Treatment-Related Suicidality


From Psychiatry at the Margins: Awais Aftab interviews Martin Plöderl, PhD, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist at a public psychiatric hospital in Salzburg, Austria, whose research focus is on suicide prevention with a recent focus on the efficacy of antidepressants.

“Overall, my take is that the evidence for adults remains somewhat inconclusive. However, what can be said with quite some certainty is that antidepressants overall do not decrease suicidal behavior. Put differently, the claim that ‘antidepressants are live-saving’ is not supported by the evidence, at least not for the average patient. This is striking, given the widespread assumption that antidepressants effectively treat depression, one of the most important risk factors for suicide. A reduction of suicidal behavior should of course be expected, but we don’t see this in the studies.”

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  1. Given I lost a 20 yr old child to suicide, I could not agree more that antidepressants are not the answer. They are a placebo is at best. If we do not get to the root of the problem – prolonged negative thinking taken seriously over time, resulting in hopelessness – we will not make inroads to improving suicide rates.

    People need to be educated that they feel their own thinking. That thoughts aren’t real in the sense that one could put them in a box. We need to educate people that the reason they think their thoughts are real and true, is because consciousness makes it so. People need to be pointed in the direction of understanding that their experience does not come from outside of them, it comes from inside their own minds, but in a low mood, the thoughts we have are not reliable – evidenced by feelings of stress, tension, and upset, our bodies way of letting us know our thinking is off and unreliable in the moment.

    From my POV, suicide is preventable in all cases – as long as – the suicidal person is open to considering they don’t have to listen to their thoughts.

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