Suicidality Varies by Age in Adults on Antidepressants

Risk is highest among adults under 25 years, lowest among those aged 65 years and older

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The link between suicidality and use of antidepressants in adults is strongly age-dependent, according to a study published online Aug. 11 in BMJ.

Marc Stone, M.D., of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Md., and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 372 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials to examine the risk of suicidal behavior in adults taking antidepressants. The trials included 99,231 adults with a median age of 42 years (63.1 percent women).

The researchers found that suicidal behavior and ideation were very rare in participants with non-psychiatric indications. For those with psychiatric indications, though, suicidal behavior and ideation were associated with age. The odds ratios for suicidal behavior or ideation and for suicidal behavior only were 1.62 and 2.3 for participants younger than 25 years, 0.79 and 0.87 for those aged 25 to 64 years, and 0.37 and 0.06 for those aged 65 years and older.

"Compared with placebo, the increased risk for suicidality and suicidal behavior among adults under 25 approaches that seen in children and adolescents," the authors write. "The net effect seems to be neutral on suicidal behavior but possibly protective for suicidal ideation in adults aged 25 to 64 and to reduce the risk of both suicidality and suicidal behavior in those aged 65 or greater."

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Andrea Mongler

Andrea Mongler

Published on August 12, 2009

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