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Depression Treatment Reduces Suicide Risk in Teens, Adults

Large study shows risk is highest the month before treatment, then declines during treatment

THURSDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with depression, the risk of suicide attempts significantly decreases after the initiation of antidepressant treatment, psychotherapy or both, according to study findings published in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Gregory Simon, M.D., of the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, and a colleague identified suicide attempts during the 90 days before and 180 days after 131,788 patients began antidepressant treatment, psychotherapy or both.

The researchers found that patients under age 25 were about twice as likely to attempt suicide as older patients. But they observed that the time pattern was the same for both age groups, with suicide attempts most likely to occur during the month before treatment started, decreasing by at least 50 percent in the month after treatment commenced, and steadily declining thereafter. They also found that the incidence of suicide attempts was higher among patients receiving antidepressant prescriptions from psychiatrists (1,124 per 100,000) than among those starting psychotherapy (778 per 100,000) or those receiving antidepressant prescriptions in primary care (301 per 100,000).

"These data offer some reassurance that overall risk of suicide attempt declines after depression treatment is started, with either medication or psychotherapy," the authors conclude.

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