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Michelle Norton, email@example.com
Thursday 27 February 2014, 9:00AM
Over half of people aged 18 to 25 in a study and over a third of the total participants reported suicidal thoughts after taking antidepressants. Over half of young New Zealanders taking antidepressants reported suicidal thoughts in a recent survey.
The research published online in Psychiatry Research (25 February) pools responses from 1829 New Zealanders who had been prescribed antidepressants within the last five years.
Each participant completed an online questionnaire which asked them about 20 adverse effects. The most frequently reported side effects were: sexual difficulties (62%) and feeling emotionally numb (60%).
Alarmingly, over half of people aged 18 to 25 in the study and over a third of the total participants reported suicidal thoughts.
Lead researcher John Read from the University of Liverpool’s psychology, health and society department says this suggests earlier studies have understated the extent of this side effect.
Other reported psychological side effects include: not feeling like myself (52%) and reduction in positive feelings (42%).
On the other hand, 82% of respondents did report that the drugs helped to alleviate their depression.
Professor Read says physical side effects of antidepressants are well known, but there has previously been little data on the psychological effects.
“While the biological side effects of antidepressants, such as weight gain and nausea, are well documented, psychological and interpersonal issues have been largely ignored or denied. They appear to be alarmingly common,” he says in a press release.
He believes medicalization of sadness and distress has reached “bizarre levels”, with as many as one in 10 people being prescribed antidepressants each year in some countries.
The study also found people are not being told about these psychological side effects. This also raises the issue of over-prescription of these types of drugs, the study states.