Anxiety Home > Important Info on the Link Between Suicide and Paxil

Does Paxil Cause Suicides?

In short-term clinical studies, it did appear that there was a slightly increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior (called suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults who took antidepressants, including Paxil. In one study, about 4 percent of children, adolescents, and young adults taking an antidepressant had suicidal thoughts or behavior, compared to 2 percent who were not taking an antidepressant.
This increased risk for suicidality was not seen in other age groups. In fact, no increased risk was seen in people over the age of 24, while people aged 65 and older appeared to have a lower risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors when treated with an antidepressant.
The FDA-reviewed antidepressant studies looked at all suicidal behaviors, including suicides, attempted suicides, and thoughts about committing suicide. The term suicidality describes thoughts and behaviors related to suicide -- it is not the same as completed suicide. It is important to note that none of the children or adolescents in the FDA-reviewed studies actually committed suicide.
It is difficult to know for sure if antidepressants cause suicidal thoughts and behavior. To make matters more confusing, depression and other mental health problems can cause suicidal thoughts and behavior. The bottom line: You should report any signs of suicidal behavior to your healthcare professional, regardless of whether you are taking an antidepressant.
Certain people seem to be at higher risk for suicidal behavior while taking antidepressants. This includes people with bipolar disorder (or a family history of bipolar disorder) and people who have attempted suicide (or have a family history of suicide attempts).

Suggestions for Reducing the Risk of Suicide

When you (or your child or loved one) start taking an antidepressant, or when the dose is increased, the prescribing physician should monitor you (or your child or loved one) carefully for any signs of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you (or your child or loved one) have any of the following:
  • Thoughts about death or committing suicide
  • Suicide attempts
  • Depression or anxiety that is new or worse
  • Agitation, restlessness, or panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Irritability that is new or worse
  • Aggressive, angry, or violent behavior
  • Acting on dangerous impulses
  • Unusually increased talking or activity
  • Other strange changes in mood or behavior.
Also contact your healthcare provider if you notice any other behaviors that concern you. Do not stop taking an antidepressant without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant suddenly may cause other potentially dangerous reactions, including worsening depression.
Depression is a treatable illness. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of using Paxil (especially in children, adolescents, and young adults) with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can discuss all the available treatment options with you, and may be able to recommend other options for depression treatment
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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