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Study Shows Some Anti-Seizure Meds Raise Suicide Risk
Date:4/13/2010

But experts note that many taking them already face higher risk for suicide

TUESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Some anticonvulsants used to treat epilepsy and other conditions may increase the risk of suicide, attempted suicide or violent death, a new study finds.

While these drugs are used primarily to control epileptic seizures, they are also approved treatments for other conditions, such as bipolar disorder, mania, migraine and chronic nerve pain.

"Anticonvulsant medications have important therapeutic benefits, but they also have associated risks that both provider and patient need to remain aware of," said study author Dr. Elisabetta Patorno, a research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"Physicians should discuss associated risks and benefits with their patients, and together determine the best treatment course for the underlying medical condition," she said. "Both patients and health-care professionals should be alert to early symptoms that might potentially be associated with suicidal risk."

The report is published in the April 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Patorno's group used the HealthCore Integrated Research Database, which has data on prescriptions and adverse side effects. Specifically, they looked at almost 300,000 patients aged 15 and older in 14 states who started taking anticonvulsant medications between July 2001 and December 2006.

During that period, the researchers identified 801 attempted suicides, 26 completed suicides and 41 violent deaths -- 868 combined suicidal acts or violent deaths.

Patorno's group found an increased risk of suicidal acts among patients taking the anticonvulsants gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), tiagabine (Gabitril) and valproate, compared with people taking the anticonvulsant topiramate (Top
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