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Antidepressant Warnings Diminish Depression Treatment

Several years ago, the Food and Drug Administration warned physicians that antidepressants might trigger suicidal thoughts or behaviors in teens and young adults. The warning was intended to increase vigilance over young people starting an antidepressant prescription. Psychiatrists charge that it has reduced overall treatment of depression.

Data from managed care companies showed that primary care doctors were less likely to diagnose depression starting in 2004, just before warnings went on labels in 2005. The use of SSRI drugs dropped, but there does not seem to have been a corresponding increase in older drugs that can be used to treat depression. The researchers are not certain why doctors are diagnosing and treating depression less frequently in adults as well as youngsters. They believe this is an unintended consequence of the label warning, however, and call on the FDA to reconsider it.

[Archives of General Psychiatry, June 2009]

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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