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Though there may be rare incidents of increased suicidal ideation or higher rates of acting on suicidal thoughts in correlation to SSRI use, the overall therapeutic benefits of SSRIs outweigh these risks, and these drugs should be thought of as generally beneficial.
Studies reporting that SSRIs increase the risk of suicide were conducted in the early 2000s, and received a lot of media attention. These studies stated that SSRIs increased the likelihood of suicide in people under the age of 18. However, future studies showed that across all age groups, people taking SSRIs had only a slightly higher chance of experiencing suicidal thoughts than people who were given a placebo (Antidepressants and suicide, 2007). As such, I think that SSRIs are likely not a major concern when it comes to suicide. Just like with any new medication though, it is important for providers prescribing SSRIs to closely monitor new patients for any radical changes in mood or expressions of suicidal intent.
When researching suicide, the most consistently listed risk factors are stress, social isolation, discrimination based on gender, sexuality, or race, issues with substance use, and people experiencing bullying (Suicide and suicidal thoughts, 2018). Perhaps individuals that experience one or more of these issues should be monitored more closely when beginning to take SSRIs, as these might be the people who are more at risk for having an SSRI trigger suicidal thoughts. Overall though, I believe that the majority of people suffering from anxiety or depression could benefit from SSRIs.
- Antidepressants and suicide. (2007, July). Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/…
- Suicide and suicidal thoughts. (2018, October 18). Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sui…
I do think that antidepressants lead to suicide. If you’ve ever seen commercials about antidepressants, then you’ve heard that at the end they have the guy with the deep voice talking kind of fast about the risks of taking the medication. Perhaps you have never noticed but they also include “depression” as a side-effect and sometimes he says “contact your doctor if you experience suicidal thoughts” or something similar. This is what originally led me to believe that antidepressants lead to suicide. I also found an article online that also illustrates my point. According to the National Center for Health Research, antidepressants also get prescribed to people suffering from anxiety and OCD. Some of these patients have reported having suicidal thoughts and actions. If someone who was not depressed or suicidal before taking these medications became depressed and suicidal after taking them, wouldn’t you blame it on the medication?