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Deliberate self-harm and antidepressant drugs: Investigation of a possible link

  • Stuart Donovan (a1), Andrew Clayton (a2), Min Beeharry (a2), Sheron Jones (a2), Chris Kirk (a2), Keith Waters (a2), David Gardner (a2), June Faulding (a2) and Richard Madeley (a1)...

Abstract

Background

It is not clear if the frequency of deliberate self-harm (DSH) is the same in patients taking different pharmacological classes of antidepressant drugs.

Aims

To compare the frequency of DSH in patients who had been prescribed a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prior to the DSH event.

Method

This was a prospective study in 2776 consecutive DSH cases attending an accident and emergency department. The incidence of DSH in TCA-treated cases and SSRI-treated cases is expressed as number of DSH events per 10 000 prescriptions of each antidepressant.

Results

Significantly more DSH events occurred following the prescription of an SSRI than that of a TCA (P < 0.001). The occurrence of DSH was highest with fluoxetine and lowest with amitriptyline.

Conclusions

Merely prescribing safer-in-overdose antidepressants is unlikely to reduce the overall morbidity from DSH.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Stuart Donovan, The Croft, 44 Lower Stanton Road, Ilkeston, Derbyshire DE7 4LN, UK; fax: 0115 932 1453; e-mail: mercedes@redmerc.freeserve.co.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

Support was received from the University of Nottingham and the Southern Derbyshire Health Authority. An unconditional contribution to postage and data analysis costs was received from the pharmaceutical industry.

Footnotes

References

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Deliberate self-harm and antidepressant drugs: Investigation of a possible link

  • Stuart Donovan (a1), Andrew Clayton (a2), Min Beeharry (a2), Sheron Jones (a2), Chris Kirk (a2), Keith Waters (a2), David Gardner (a2), June Faulding (a2) and Richard Madeley (a1)...
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