'Taking antidepressants raises the risk of suicide, a study suggests.
Experts last night warned that patients should be told of the dangers before they start taking the pills.
The research found depressed people on the drugs were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as similar patients who were not taking them.
Study leader Dr Michael Hengartner, of Zurich University in Switzerland, said: ‘We can be confident that these drugs are producing an excess rate of suicides, beyond the depression itself.
‘There is no doubt that this must be a response to the pharmacological effect of the drugs themselves.’
Although the increased risk appears stark, in real terms the researchers calculated only 77 extra suicides per 100,000 patients taking the pills.
Scientists acknowledge that for many people, antidepressants are a lifeline.
But with more patients in Britain taking them than those in almost every other Western country, many doctors believe millions are being put at risk.
Some seven million adults in England took the drugs in 2016/17. The researchers believe that for some, the chemicals in the pills can trigger severe agitation, restlessness and even psychotic episodes.
Dr Hengartner added: ‘I’m not saying no one should be given antidepressants, but doctors should be much more conservative about how they use them. One in six adults being given antidepressants like in the UK – that is alarming.
‘Patients should be informed of the risks and they should be monitored.’
The study found that people prescribed antidepressants were 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than depressed people taking placebo pills.'
Read more: New health alert over antidepressants as study finds a 'rare but serious' risk of suicide for patients on pills
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