Teen Suicide Risk Increased by AntidepressantsAug 18, 2004 | CBS NEWS A new warning by the Food and Drug Administration says taking antidepressant drugs increases a teen's risk of suicide.
And this time, the FDA has come under fire for allegedly withholding information about the risks, from the American public.
The latest FDA study reveals that during the first month of antidepressant treatment, kids are almost twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts.
David Feinberg, M.D., UCLA Psychiatric Medical Director, said, "It's the first month or so of treatment where children taking this medication can have a new onset of suicidal ideation. So during that time, they need to be followed closely."
The Wall Street Journal estimates that roughly five million American children are now taking antidepressant drugs. And with doctors writing three times as many prescriptions as they did 10 years ago, and millions of kids on one of the nine popular antidepressants studied, parents have cause for concern.
Thomas Woodward's daughter took her life seven days after she started taking Zoloft. Woodward said, "We were told how mild and safe these drugs were, and essential to her getting better."
Jame Tierney took the antidepressant, Effexor to relieve her migraine headaches, and she developed suicidal tendencies.
"I had a lot of suicidal thoughts," Tierney said, "and I thought I wanted to die."
By last February, the FDA knew that antidepressants increase suicidal events in kids under 18.
But instead of publicizing the new information, the agency opted for drug warning labels and additional studies.
Now it faces two congressional investigations. And a growing list of angry parents.
Woodward said, "Our daughter would not have done this if it hadn't been for the drug, and I'm convinced about that."
Jame's mother, Jennifer Tierney, commented, "The FDA is not doing its job to protect our children. How pathetic is that?"
"I think it's been handled abominably,' remarked Dr. Joseph Glenmullen of Harvard Medical School. "The FDA has just dragged its feet and delayed this whole thing. It's an outrage."
Still, psychiatrists say some depressed youngsters benefit from the drugs. This leaves parents and care givers searching for the best way to safely treat the growing number of American children diagnosed with this potentially fatal disease.