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Suicidal status during antidepressant treatment in 789 Sardinian patients with major affective disorder

Authors

  • L. Tondo,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Program, Harvard Medical School and McLean Division of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Department of Psychology, University of Cagliari
    3. Lucio Bini Mood Disorders Research Center, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
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  • B. Lepri,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Cagliari
    2. Lucio Bini Mood Disorders Research Center, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
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  • R. J. Baldessarini

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Program, Harvard Medical School and McLean Division of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
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Dr Ross J Baldessarini, Mailman Research Center, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Elmont, MA 02478-9106, USA.
E-mail: rjb@mclean.org

Abstract

Objective:  Relationships between antidepressant treatment and suicidality remain uncertain in major depressive disorder (MDD), and rarely evaluated in bipolar disorder (BPD).

Method:  We evaluated changes in suicidality ratings (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale item-3) at the start and after 3.59 ± 2.57 months of sustained antidepressant treatment in a systematically assessed clinical sample (n = 789) of 605 patients with MDD, 103 patients with BPD-II and 81 patients with BPD-I (based on DSM-IV; 68.1% women; aged 44.3 ± 16.1 years), comparing suicidal vs. non-suicidal and recovered vs. unrecovered initially suicidal patients.

Results:  Suicidal patients (103/789, 16.5%; BPD/MDD risk: 2.2) were more depressed and were ill longer. During treatment, 81.5% of suicidal patients became non-suicidal; 0.46% of 656 initially non-suicidal patients reported new suicidal thoughts, with no new attempts. Becoming non-suicidal was associated with greater depression severity and greater improvement.

Conclusion:  Suicidal ideation was prevalent in patients with depressed major affective disorder, but most of the initially suicidal patients became non-suicidal with antidepressant treatment, independent of diagnosis, treatment type or dose.

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