Lest the gloom prevail

Published: Tuesday 30 November 2004

Anti-Depressants USA

The us Food and Drug Administration (fda) has ordered that anti-depressants carry one of the government's strongest warnings, a black box advising of possible suicidal reactions when used by children and teenagers. The fda announcement follows public hearings and news reports that raised questions about incidents of suicide among teenagers hooked on anti-depressants. An independent study at Columbia University had also showed that 2 to 3 per cent of children taking anti-depressants have increased suicidal thoughts and actions. Although children and teens are the focus of the warning, the fda says caregivers and physicians should be equally vigilant with adults.

However, not all were sure if the warning would work. Kathleen Bodnar, a grieving mother, feared that the warning will have no effect. She also apprehended that it would be too late before the warning touches on families and friends, who best monitor patient behaviour. "If my daughter were living with me, I could be watching her everyday and notice the difference," said Bodnar, whose 21-year-old daughter killed herself two days after restarting an anti-depressant that had been stopped because she had flu. "And doctors are not likely to alert patients, immediately," she lamented.

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