Epilepsy drugs were previously warned to elevate risk of suicide. But it seems that all epilepsy medications cannot be held responsible for heightened suicidal tendency in a patient. According to scientists from a latest study not all drugs increase this risk, only certain medications of epilepsy are to be blamed.
Epilepsy drugs like levetiracetam, topiramate and vigabatrin are believed to elevate risk of self-harm or suicidal behavior in epilepsy patients. On the other hand, the recent and advanced drugs seem to heighten risk of depression. And the newly ascertained drugs such as lamotrigine, gabapentin, carbamazepine, valproate and phenytoin displaying a low risk of causing depression do not boost risk of self-harm or suicidal behavior. The experts suggest that people shouldn’t stop consuming epilepsy drugs just because it may increase the risk of suicide. Halting drugs consumption can seemingly lead to more adverse consequences.
“These results may be helpful for doctors and people with epilepsy as they decide which drugs to use. An earlier analysis of data by the FDA grouped all of the epilepsy drugs together and found an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, but could not address the question of whether there were differences among the various classes of epilepsy drugs,” explained Frank Andersohn, MD, of Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, Germany, study author.
In the course of the study, investigators examined all epilepsy patients in the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database. All the study participants were prescribed at least one epilepsy drug from 1989 through 2005. Follow-up of these patients continued for an average of five and a half years. The outcome was that from a total of 44,300 participants, 453 had either harmed themselves or attempted suicide. It was ascertained that 78 people died at the time or within four weeks of the initial attempt.
During the study, scientists compared the 453 people to 8,962 in the larger group who had not harmed themselves or attempted suicide. Patients consuming drugs elevating risk for depression, seemed to be three times more likely to harm themselves or attempt suicide as compared to those who were not under any epilepsy medications.
From the 453 people, six representing 1.3 percent who had injured themselves or attempted suicide were on the newer drugs with the greater risk of depression. This was compared to 45 people belonging to the 8,962 group of study subjects, equal to 0.5 percent, of those who did not harm themselves. Since the number of people on medication was less, further inspections are a necessity to affirm the results.
The study is published in the July 27, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.