Anti-Depressants and Suicide
Essay title: Anti-Depressants and Suicide
In the LA Times article entitled “After drug scare, no easy answers for depressed kids” the author address the question of whether SSRI anti-depressants can be linked to teen suicide. Recently the FDA voted to order a black box warning, a high level alert, for anti-depressants like Prozac stating that studies have shown an increase in suicidal behavior in children under 18 taking the drug. The warning comes following reports of children taking SSRI anti-depressants committing suicide after showing improvement from the treatment. In most cases the children are described as becoming irritable and aggressive after showing improvement over a period of weeks. Soon after the child attempts or succeeds in commit suicide, causing parents to question whether the drug is at fault. The article states that after the new warning doctors are becoming more cautious when prescribing anti-depressants to children, causing a 10% decrease in prescriptions being written for those under 18. This is an abrupt change to the rapidly increasing amount of prescriptions written in previous years. The article does concede that the problem may not be with the anti-depressants but with doctors being too eager to prescribe drugs like Prozac as an easy fix. This problem is linked to insurance plans often coving only the drugs rather than psychotherapy. Many doctors believe that the warnings may prevent children in need of anti-depressants from getting them because of concerned parents, but concede that if the warning makes doctors more cautious about prescribing anti-depressants without seeing a psychiatrist it could make a difference.
In the textbook, Psychology in modules by Myers, depression is described as a biochemical problem in which there is a lack of neurotransmitters such as Norepinephrine and Serotonin in the brain. Anti-depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft also known as “selective-serotonin reuptake-inhibitor drugs” work by increasing the availability of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain linked to arousal and mood. They accomplish this by blocking the reabsorption of the neuron and remove serotonin from the synapses. Normally these drugs take 4 weeks for results to become apparent, patients should not expect instant results form the drug. As for the subject of anti-depressants causing an increased risk of suicide all studies to date have pointed to no. The text does explain an alternative view to what the article uses as proof of the link of suicide and antidepressants. Often when a subject is depressed they have thoughts of taking their life or a feeling of worthlessness but are unable to commit suicide because they lack the initiative or the energy. When a subject is rebounding from a deep depression, whether through the use of anti-depressants or not, they have an increased risk of suicide because they regain the initiative and the energy required to follow through with their plans. This is almost identical to the situations described by the article, in which the subject has been put on the drug, and after showing some improvement commit suicide. The situation is strikingly similar to the theory