xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Antidepressants Germanwings suicide

In the op-ed "Antidepressants: A deadly treatment?" (April 11), Patrick Hahn links antidepressants to violence, specifically, suicide and homicide. He referred to reports made by Drs. Arnold Beisser and James Blanchard in 1961 about antidepressants increasing patient suicide rates. First, it is important to understand that such statements should only be made based on updated and accurate research. Since 1961, there have been numerous evidence-based research studies showing the positive effects of treatment with antidepressants. It is misguided to use outdated information when making links between treatments and outcomes.

Looking at new, recent studies focusing on the effect of antidepressants, Undurraga et. al. performed a 30-year meta-analytic review of randomized, placebo-controlled trials of antidepressants in 2012. This study used a total of 27,127 adult subjects from 107 studies between 1980 and 2011. According to these results, antidepressants showed an overall pooled relative ratio of 1.42 indicating an average of 42 percent superiority in the efficacy of antidepressants over placebos in the treatment of depression.

Advertisement

Another statement by Mr. Hahn was that clinicians have been noting a trend in which antidepressants increase suicide rates since 1961. This is not the trend as understood among clinicians. In fact, the opposite has been noted. Using evidence-based clinical trials, clinicians have noted a decrease in suicide rates when adequate treatment with antidepressants is used. In 2005, a study using National Vital Statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention noted that antidepressants, especially newer antidepressants, were associated with lower suicide rates. Another study in 2007 by Gibbons et. al. studying the relationship between antidepressants and suicide attempts observed antidepressants had a protective effect in all adult age groups.

The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 is a heart-breaking tragedy. In order to avoid incidents such as this from repeating itself, it is important to understand the real, underlying problems. It would be erroneous to label antidepressants as the cause of the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525. With this incident shedding light on mental health, it is critical that we use this opportunity to highlight the need for effective treatment of individuals suffering with mental illness. It is imperative that we focus on critical aspects of mental health treatment that lead to an individual decompensating such as improving policies and follow-up methods for monitoring treatment compliance among patients. In addition to this, developing more accurate screening techniques for monitoring a patient's progress during treatment and having practical, yet reliable precautions for individuals with mental illness returning to high-risk jobs.

Advertisement

Dr. Munachim Uyanwune, Baltimore

The writer is a clinical psychiatrist at Sheppard Pratt Health System.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement