Anxiety Disorders Boost Suicide Threat

First such study found they could triple the risk

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 9, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- People with anxiety disorders are at increased risk of thinking about and attempting suicide, researchers report.

"This is the first study to demonstrate that a pre-existing anxiety disorder is an independent risk factor for subsequent onset of suicidal ideation (thoughts) and attempts," said researchers from the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada.

They reported the findings in the November issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

The Canadian team analyzed data from interviews conducted with thousands of people from the Netherlands.

They found that the presence of an anxiety disorder more than doubled the risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts for the more than 7, 000 people who took part in the initial interview.

For the close to 4,800 people who took part in all three interviews (one a year for three years), the presence of an anxiety disorder more than doubled the risk of suicidal thoughts and more than tripled the risk of suicide attempts.

"Further analysis demonstrated that the presence of any anxiety disorder in combination with a mood disorder (such as depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse disorders) was associated with a higher likelihood of suicide attempts in comparison with a mood disorder alone," the study authors wrote.

"Further research is required to delineate whether treatment of anxiety disorders reduces the risk of subsequent suicidal behavior," the authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Mental Health Information Center has more about anxiety disorders.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Nov. 7, 2005

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