[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 14-Oct-2009
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Contact: Charlotte Webber
charlotte.webber@biomedcentral.com
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BioMed Central

Popular antidepressant associated with a dramatic increase in suicidal thoughts amongst men

Nortriptyline has been found to cause a ten-fold increase in suicidal thoughts in men when compared to its competitor escitalopram. These findings are published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

The research was carried out by Dr. Nader Perroud from the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, who headed up GENDEP, an international team. Dr Perroud said "Suicidal thoughts and behaviours during antidepressant treatment have prompted warnings by regulatory bodies". He continued "the aim of our study was to investigate the emergence and worsening of suicidal thoughts during treatment with two different types of antidepressant."

Both escitalopram and nortriptyline have their effect through the mood modulating neurotransmitter systems. The former is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), preventing serotonin from re-entering the cell and thereby prolonging its effect on nerve synapses. The latter is a tricyclic antidepressant that inhibits the reuptake of noradrenaline, and to a lesser extent, that of serotonin.

The study was carried out on 811 individuals with moderate to severe unipolar depression. Whilst an overall trend in reduction of suicidal thoughts was observed, men who took nortriptyline were found to have a 9.8-fold increase in emerging suicidal thoughts and a 2.4-fold increase in worsening suicidal thoughts compared to those who took escitalopram.

Perroud concludes, "Our findings that treatment-emerging and worsening suicidal thoughts may also be associated with psychomotor activation triggered by antidepressants needs to be investigated in future studies. The study also refutes the idea that newer antidepressants such as the SSRIs are worse than older medications in terms of increasing suicidal thoughts."

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Notes to Editors:

1. Suicidal ideation during treatment of depression with escitalopram and nortriptyline in Genome-Based Therapeutic Drugs for Depression (GENDEP): a clinical trial
Nader Perroud, Rudolf Uher, Andrej Marusic, Marcella Rietschel, Ole Mors, Neven Henigsberg, Joanna Hauser, Wolfgang Maier, Daniel Souery, Anna Placentino, Aleksandra Szczepankiewicz, Lisbeth Jorgensen, Jana Strohmaier, Astrid Zobel, Caterina Giovannini, Amanda Elkin, Cerisse Gunasinghe, Joanna Gray, Desmond Campbell, Bhanu Gupta, Anne E Farmer, Peter McGuffin and Katherine J Aitchison
BMC Medicine (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/6417703353061048_article.pdf?random=872607

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcmed/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. BMC Medicine - the flagship medical journal of the BMC series - publishes original research articles, commentaries and reviews in all areas of medical science and clinical practice. To be appropriate for BMC Medicine, articles need to be of outstanding quality, broad interest and special importance. BMC Medicine (ISSN 1741-7015) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Current Contents, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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