Pharmacological prevention of suicide in patients with major mood disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

24 Citations (Scopus)


The risk of self-destructive behavior in mood disorders is an inherent phenomenon and suicidal behavior in patients with unipolar or bipolar major mood disorders strongly relates to the presence and severity of depressive episodes. Consequently, early recognition, and successful acute and long-term treatment of depressive disorders is essential for suicide prevention in such patients. Large-scale, retrospective and prospective naturalistic long-term clinical studies, including severely ill, frequently suicidal depressives show that appropriate pharmacotherapy markedly reduces suicide morbidity and mortality even in this high-risk population. Supplementary psycho-social interventions further improve the effect. The slightly elevated (but in absolute sense quite low) risk of suicidal behavior among patients taking antidepressants compared to those taking placebo in randomized controlled antidepressant trials on unipolar major depression might be the consequence of the depression-worsening potential of antidepressant monotherapy in subthreshold and mixed bipolar depressed patients included in these trials and falsely diagnosed as suffering from unipolar major depression. Concurrent depression-focused psychotherapies increase the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy and this way contribute to suicide prevention for patients with mood disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2398-2403
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2013


  • Antidepressants
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Completed suicide
  • Suicide attempt
  • Suicide prevention
  • Unipolar major depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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