Carnegie Mellon, Ohio State get grant to study link between antidepressants and suicidality in teens

Pittsburgh -- An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and The Ohio State University has received a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate the link between antidepressants and suicidality -- including suicidal thoughts, attempts and suicide deaths. The researchers have previously challenged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) findings that antidepressants are causally linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors in young people.

In 2004, the FDA performed a meta-analysis of the results of randomized clinical trials of antidepressants and concluded that the drugs led to increased suicidal behaviors and thoughts, which it termed "suicidality," among children and adolescents. As a result, the FDA required manufacturers to place a black box warning on the labels of antidepressants -- the strongest regulatory action the agency can take short of an outright ban. This has led to a decline in prescriptions of antidepressants for children and adolescents.

But the results of a study published in April by scientists from Carnegie Mellon and Ohio State suggest that the FDA may have overstated the actual risk to most teens and children on antidepressants. Using sophisticated statistical techniques, the researchers found an increased risk of suicidality only among adolescents who suffered from major depressive disorder, and then only among those who took a specific class of antidepressants -- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Antidepressants are prescribed for a variety of other psychological ailments, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and general anxiety disorder.

"Our concern was that by mixing together different diagnostic groups as well as different formulations of antidepressants, the FDA was underestimating important sources of variability that would make their results look more significant than they were," said Joel Gr

Contact: Jonathan Potts
Carnegie Mellon University

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