Genes Hold Clue to Antidepressant-Related Suicidal Thoughts — (Ivanhoe)

SSRI Ed note: Study finds that among people who have no suicidal thoughts or history, over 8% become suicidal on antidepressants.

Original article no longer available


Reported June 5, 2007

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — If new research is correct, doctors may soon have a way to tell which men will have thoughts of suicide when they begin treatment with antidepressants.

Investigators studied more than 1,400 people taking part in a large clinical trial on depression treatments, looking for specific genetic mutations linked to antidepressant effects and suicide.

None of the people at the beginning of the study reported having suicidal thoughts or behaviors. After up to 12 weeks of treatment with an antidepressant, 123 reported such thoughts, including 54 men. When the investigators compared the genetic mutations with the occurrence of suicidal thoughts, they found men — but not women — who reported these thoughts were significantly more likely to have one of the mutations.

The authors believe this finding could help doctors determine which men are at highest risk for suicidal thoughts related to antidepressants. “If replicated, this finding would suggest that pharmacogenetic testing could facilitate the identification of the small subset of individuals at greater risk during short-term antidepressant treatment,” conclude the researchers.

These men might then be offered a different form of treatment for their depression or may be more closely monitored if they do take the drugs. At the same time, men without the genetic mutations could rest assured they are unlikely to develop these thoughts.

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SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, 2007;64:689-697