Antidepressant Use Tightly Correlates with Increased Suicide Rates

While the study can’t confirm causality, it does contradict the notion that antidepressants reduce suicide at the population level.

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Proponents of antidepressants have long proposed the theory that increased antidepressant drug prescriptions would reduce suicide rates at the population level. Yet analysis after analysis has found that suicide rates have increased alongside increasing antidepressant drug use (and actually decreased when antidepressant prescribing took a dip, too). A new study has now confirmed this effect, finding a correlation between the increase in antidepressant drug use and suicide rates over time.

“The results of our analysis consistently demonstrated positive trends for both antidepressant prescription prevalence and suicide rates over time as well as positive associations between them. These findings update those from previous studies and are at odds with the notion that, at a population level, more antidepressant prescriptions would lead to lower suicide rates,” the researchers write.

The study was conducted by Simone Amendola, Martin Plöderl, and Michael P. Hengartner, and published in Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting, it clearly indicates that widespread antidepressant prescription isn’t an effective suicide prevention method. Although as you’ve highlighted, this study is about correlation, and I wonder if high antidepressant prescription is a proxy for something else i.e. a pressured healthcare system resorting to overprescribing/ giving an overall lower quality of care.

    This cohort study of 538,577 people prescribed antidepressants showed that risk of suicidal behaviour was highest in the 30 days prior to antidepressant prescription (67.5/1000 person-years) and lowest in the 12th month following initiation (19.8/1000 person-years).

    Lagerberg, T., Fazel, S., Sjölander, A. et al. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and suicidal behaviour: a population-based cohort study. Neuropsychopharmacol. 47, 817–823 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01179-z

    Presumably they’re doing something…

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  2. I don’t know what if any effects this data will have on prescribing habits internationally but what frightens me is that in the USA we will probably see more increased antidepressant prescriptions. The experts here will pay someone to come up with warm and fuzzy studies no doubt but part of the problem is that once psychiatrists and psychologists etc are faced with the truth their tendency is to double down and do even more of the same…

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