NPR: Warnings Against Antidepressants For Teens May Have Backfired


Antidepressant use nationally fell by 31 percent among adolescents between 2000 and 2010. Suicide attempts increased by almost 22 percent.

Government warnings that antidepressants may be risky for adolescents, and the ensuing media coverage, appear to have caused an increase in suicide attempts among young people, researchers reported Wednesday.

A study involving the health records of more than 7 million people between 2000 and 2010 found a sharp drop in antidepressant use among adolescents and young people and a significant increase in suicide attempts after the Food and Drug Administration issued its warnings.

“This was a huge worldwide event in terms of the mass media,” says Stephen Soumerai of the Harvard Medical School, a co-author of the study, which was published in the journal BMJ. “Many of the media reports actually emphasized an exaggeration of the warnings.”

Starting in 2003, the FDA warned that popular antidepressants, such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil, might increase the risk that kids would think about killing themselves — or even actively attempt it.

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Michael Williams
Michael Williams

Multimedia Producer at WITF

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