Patients being treated with older style antidepressant drugs are far more likely to attempt suicide than those using more modern medication, according to an American study.

Researchers found that those taking desipramine had an attempted suicide risk, by over dosing on the drug, that was 51 per cent higher than those taking fluoxetine, according to figures supplied by the Association of Poison Control Centers; and 27 per cent higher according to figures from Drug Abuse and Warning Network.

“Desipramine may increase the risk of a suicide attempt, or it may not be as effective in preventing suicide attempts in patients with suicidal [tendencies] compared with other antidepressant drugs,” say the authors.

Not only are those taking desipramine more likely to attempt suicide, they are more likely to succeed in killing themselves with it because of its particularly toxic effects.

“Desipramine is the most toxic antidepressant (highest rate of deaths per attempt), significantly more toxic than the other tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline,” the authors conclude.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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