Antidepressant-related deaths and antidepressant prescriptions in England and Wales, 1998-2000

Survjit Cheeta, Fabrizio Schifano, Adenekan Oyefeso, Lucy Webb, A. Hamid Ghodse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Deaths from antidepressants continue to account for a substantial proportion of drug-related deaths. Aims: To investigate the relative toxicity of the major classes of antidepressant drugs, with the specific objective of assessing this in relation to the cause of death; and to analyse the deaths where there were multiple mentions of antidepressant drugs or other psychoactive drugs with antidepressants. Method: Mortality data were collected from the National Programme of Substance Abuse Deaths, and antidepressant prescription data were collected. Results: Most deaths from antidepressant drugs were suicides (80%). Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) accounted for more drug mentions than did other antidepressant drugs (12 per million prescriptions). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were associated with a significantly lower risk of toxicity, but 93% of deaths from SSRIs occurred in combination with other drugs, especiallyTCAs (24.5%). In 'combination' deaths patients were significantly more likely to have had a history of drug misuse. Conclusions: The efficacy and safety of augmentation therapy with TCAs in SSRI-resistant patients should be monitored carefully, and patients prescribed antidepressants should be screened for drug use/misuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue numberJAN.
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Antidepressant-related deaths and antidepressant prescriptions in England and Wales, 1998-2000'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this