Why Do Antidepressants Raise Suicide Risk?

The fine print at the bottom of prescription drug commercials often give the impression of trying to hide something. Many people rely on antidepressants for support. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly half of the United States population has at least one prescription drug within the last month. Drugs ordered or provided during physician office visits totaled in the billions in 2010. Antidepressants may be overprescribed but learn more about potential side effects such as risk of suicide.

How Antidepressants Work

It is helpful to understand why antidepressants are used in the first place. Most have big names like Prozac or Zoloft but are classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The drugs work via serotonin, often referred to as the happiness hormone. SSRIs don’t cure depression but treat only the symptom of hormonal imbalance. Prozac may cause the brain to shut down production of serotonin which creates the opposite effect in a person’s body. SSRIs can throw off the body’s natural balance.

Rollercoaster Effect

A person’s mood goes from depressed to temporarily content very quickly. The Food and Drug Administration requires “Black Box Warnings” on all SSRIs which state that double suicide rates can occur in two per 1,000 to four per 1,000 in children and adolescents. If people were suicidal prior to using antidepressants, some theories claim, it may only facilitate the desire but did not create it in the first place.

Paradoxical Reaction

A paradoxical reaction is one in which a specific medication was intended to treat a symptom but ended up producing it in greater magnitude. Benzos are used to help relax muscles but are prone to producing the opposite effects. Antibiotics can produce an ‘Eagle effect,’ or an instance where bacteria are exposed to antibiotics for a long period of time and population rates increase.

Advances Not Cures

Although advancements continue to be made since studies on SSRIs, the warning label persists. As long as the medication that’s designed to realign how the brain works to make a person happy or depressed, the threat of ending it all will be lurking in the fine print for those who are wanting to know what some of the more risky side effects may include. The reality is there is always an inherent risk when taking medication but some people may not feel it is worth the risk of suicide if this is an issue of concern.

Hired Power supports individuals struggling with addiction through our programs. If you are wanting help in the battle against substance use or alcoholism, call us to find out how we can help you recover.