Whenever an adolescent attempts or commits suicide there is always the question of “Why?”
Parents should be aware that depressed children 18 and under are at an increased risk of suicide when prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). SSRI’s are a class of antidepressants that act within the brain to increase the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin by inhibiting its re-uptake at synapses. SSRIs were specifically designed to treat Depression.
Many drugs in this class include:
- fluoxetine (trade name: Prozac®, Fontex®, Seromex®, Seronil®)
- paroxetine (trade name: Paxil®, Seroxat®, Optipar®, Aropax®)
- Zoloft (trade name: Zoloft®)
- escitalopram oxalate (trade name: Lexapro®)
- citalopram (trade name: Celexa®, Cipramil®, Emocal®, Sepram®)
- fluvoxamine maleate (trade name: Luvox®, Fevarin®)
- venlafaxine (trade name: Effexor®)
Since the 1980s, unexpected suicides and homicides have been reported in patients taking serotonin-enhancing antidepressants. On June 19, 2003, the FDA warned that the popular antidepressant “Paxil,” which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, should not be given to depressed children aged 18 and under because of an increased risk of suicide. The “Big Three” SSRI drugs-Prozac ( fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Paxil/Seroxat (paroxetine)-increase this risk significantly. While SSRIs are not thought to be strictly addictive, suddenly discontinuing their use is known to produce both somatic and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD