Letter: Suicide danger

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The Independent Online
Sir: I have great sympathy for Claire Seeber and her sister in having to deal with depression and suicide attempts by her father ("Happy pills", 25 January). The article was well balanced as it did highlight the fact that a variety of treatments are available for depression and what suits one person may not suit another.

Although there are many antidepressants on the market, they all alter brain chemistry and as we are all individuals, this fundamental effect may not always be to return the patient to "normal". Drugs are not yet as sophisticated as we need them to be, but in the absence of easily accessible supportive emotional or psychological therapy, antidepressants are a logical "first aid" and a GP could just as easily be criticised for doing nothing if a patient presents with depression.

Another factor which seems to be overlooked when linking antidepressants to suicidal ideation is the fact that a deeply depressed person does not have the motivation to eat, dress, do anything - even to kill themself. The dangerous time is often when the antidepressants "kick in" and the patient begins to muster the energy to do something to end their misery. Although it does appear that the SSRI drugs are linked with a higher suicide rate, this could be because they are more effective at lifting mood and are better tolerated by the people taking them.


Senior Pharmacist

St Christopher's Hospice

London SE26