Depression Drug Warning: Signs of Suicide (cont.)

FARRELL: This is a common thought that a number of people have, even those who do not suffer from depression. If it concerns you, then I suggest you talk to a mental heath professional, because there might be something in your life that needs attention. This does not necessarily mean you need medication.

MEMBER QUESTION: What are the signs to look out for in teenage depression and suicide?

FARRELL: In teenagers, there are so many factors involved that it could be difficult to see signs that would definitely point to suicide; however, depression may manifest itself by: Sudden changes in mood, sleeping habits, or eating behavior Irritability Social isolation Dramatic change in either grades in school or behavior related to school or going to school Some form of self medication, and by this I mean over-the-counter cough medicine, alcohol, or street drugs Any of these should be an issue for discussion with the teen.

MEMBER QUESTION: My 11-year-old son takes one pill of Celexa each night. He seems fine, but in light of this report should I have some concern for his safety?

FARRELL: Whoever is doing the prescribing should be the person you call about this. As I've said before, if he's been on it for awhile there shouldn't be a problem, and the problems don't appear to be dose related, so that this would not be a problem. But please talk to the prescribing healthcare professional.

MEMBER QUESTION: Nine years ago my husband committed suicide after taking Prozac for seven days. He was only mildly depressed and within those seven days lost weight, was anxious, etc. At the time the doctors indicated that they felt that the increased level of depression was caused by the medication. My question is if the doctors were aware of the problem nine years ago why haven't warnings been issued long ago? Is this another case of drug companies just not wanting to admit to the side effects of the medication that they manufacture? Also, is there a place where I can register to become part of the data collected for a study? "Although there have been instances where people have committed suicide on these drugs, no one can say for sure that it was the drug that caused it, and therein lies the problem."

FARRELL: On the site they list all sorts of trials that are looking for people who would wish to enter them. You may find one that is appropriate for you, or you can do a search of the site for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, at, where you will probably find a lot of helpful information on this subject. I think that although there have been instances where people have committed suicide on these drugs, no one can say for sure that it was the drug that caused it, and therein lies the problem. It is so individual and so difficult to prove either way. That is the reason we have heard very little on this until now.

MEMBER QUESTION: Why do so many people need treatment with these drugs in the first place?

FARRELL: To my mind, and I could be giving you a biased opinion on this because I am a psychologist, I believe that there are a number of things in people's lives that could be disruptive to normal happy functioning. I do not believe that they should be handled immediately with medication. I also believe there are many people who need medication, but my concern is that the medical model is overtaking a more reasonable approach to life's stresses. Medication will never be able to teach you anything, but it may make you more receptive to learning something. So it would seem more useful to use both approaches, therapy and medication, when appropriate. But I believe that therapy, if appropriate, should be sought first.

MODERATOR: Do you have any final words for us, Dr. Farrell?

FARRELL: I would suggest that anybody who is interested can easily sign up at the FDA site to receive alerts on medication clinical trials or medical devices. This way, you can be sure that you will be receiving the information in a timely fashion, and you can take whatever action you believe you need to take.

MODERATOR: Thanks to Patricia Farrell, PhD for sharing her expertise with us. For more information and advice on this topic, be sure to visit the WebMD message boards, including Depression and Anxiety: Medications and Treatments and Anxiety and Panic Disorders: Patricia A. Farrell, PhD , where you can post your questions and comments for our in-house experts, as well as your fellow WebMD members.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician.

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