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Increased Antidepressant Prescribing Linked with Fewer Suicides
© PictureDisk/Keith Brofsky
This link suggests that the increase in prescribing of antidepressants, mainly by general practitioners, has produced a benefit for mental health, say researchers in this week's BMJ.
The team examined the association between antidepressant prescribing and trends in suicide from 1991 to 2000, when there was a dramatic increase in prescribing of antidepressants, especially the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Overall, the suicide rate in Australia has remained constant over the ten year period studied. Suicide deaths declined in older men and women but youth suicide increased rapidly.
By analysing the suicide data according to age and antidepressant use, the team found that age groups with the highest exposure to antidepressant drugs had the largest decline in suicide rate. Alcohol consumption, unemployment and changes in quality of life of older people did not explain the changes in suicide rates.
These results probably reflect improved access to treatment of depression by general practitioners, who prescribe most antidepressants in Australia, conclude the authors.
MEDICA.de, Source: British Medical Journal, Volume 326, pp 1008-11