People under age 25 who take antidepressants have a higher risk of suicide, but adults older than that do not, an analysis by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) researchers released on Tuesday showed.
The report by the FDA scientists confirms earlier studies and supports the agency's age-related warnings on the drugs' labeling.
US and European regulators have been sounding alarms on the use of antidepressant drugs since 2003 after clinical trials showed they increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in those under age 18.
In February 2005, the FDA added a so-called black box warning — the agency's strongest warning — on the use of all antidepressants in young children and teens to draw attention to the possible risks of these medications. In May 2007, it extended the warnings to young adults aged 18 to 24.
A study published in June in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry said the FDA's decision to impose black box warnings for children and young adults had a spillover effect on depression care in older adults, resulting in a lasting decline in depression diagnosis and treatment. It found the risk of suicide was "strongly age-dependent," with higher risks in people under 25, no difference among those 25 to 64, and lower risks in people 65 and older.
The researchers said the findings, published on the British Medical Journal website, support the agency's warnings.
John Geddes from the University of Oxford, however, were it was not new and noted that the trials studied by the FDA excluded sicker patients. The study did, however, make clear differences in risks among specific antidepressants, they said.