• major depressive disorder;
  • quantitative electroencephalography;
  • suicidal ideation;
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Objective:  We investigated frontal quantitative EEG (QEEG) as predictor of changes in suicidal ideation (SI) during SSRI treatment in major depressive disorder (MDD).

Method:  Eighty-two subjects meeting DSM-IV criteria for MDD entered an 8-week, prospective, open-label treatment with flexible dose SSRIs and completed at least 4 weeks of treatment. We assessed MDD severity with the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D-17); change in SI was measured with HAM-D item no. 3. We recorded four-channel EEGs (F7-Fpz, F8-Fpz, A1-Fpz, A2-Fpz) before treatment.

Results:  During the first 4 weeks of treatment 9 (11%) subjects experienced worsening SI. Left-right asymmetry of combined theta + alpha power correlated significantly with change in SI from baseline, even when adjusting for changes in depression severity (HAM-D-17) and for the SSRI utilized.

Conclusion:  Frontal QEEG parameters before treatment may predict worsening SI during SSRI treatment in MDD.