Do Antidepressants Raise Suicide Risk?


Prescription drug commercials always seem to drop a bomb at the end of the ads which state what lies beneath the surface of the drug’s potential benefits. In the pursuit of health and happiness, prescription drugs can, at their worst, put a person at risk for numerous terrifying side effects. Antidepressants are one of the bigger ones with an increased risk for suicide. Learn more about whether antidepressants do raise the risk of suicide and, if so, what can be done.

What Antidepressants Do

Most antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft and others have a classification of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The drugs work via a hormone serotonin, referred to often as the ‘happiness hormone.’ Increased levels in the brain can inhibit absorption through the brain’s various receptors.

SSRIs are Not a Cure

SSRIs are not a cure for depression as the symptoms are mostly what is treated. The initial administration of Prozac typically causes the brain to shut down its own production of serotonin which causes a paradoxical, opposite, effect on the level of serotonin. The brain’s chemistry naturally wants to remain balanced and disruption from medication throws off the body’s delicate balance. The roller coaster mood thus ensues with wild swings from depressed to all over the place. All SSRIs state that suicide rates can double in both children and adults as a result of these mood swings.

Paradoxical Reactions

The overall effect is typically referred to as a ‘paradoxical reaction’ by the pharmacology world. A specific medication intended to treat one symptom but ends up producing it in greater magnitude is considered paradoxical. Benzodiazepines are one common psychoactive drug that helps relax muscles but can produce the exact opposite effect. Antibiotics have been known to produce an ‘Eagle effect,’ named after the physician who first noticed bacteria exposed to antibiotics for a long time can increase or stabilize population rates of bacteria over time, thus making them pointless.

Paradoxical reactions have been observed in people suffering from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders. A study in 1990 showed 10-to-17 year olds were compelled to self-harm following administration of Prozac which lead to hospitalization of four people. SSRIs continue to carry the warning about suicidal risk factors for individuals who use the drug. As long as the medication messes with people’s brains there is always a chance that it can be a threat against an individual which is why it will always have an alert in the fine print


Sustain Recovery has a unique approach to treating adolescents. We do not have a typical residential treatment program because we believe in the power of providing long term solutions for individuals in recovery. Call us to find out how we can support your journey today.