Use of antidepressant medication and suicidal ideation-the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2014 Nov;29(6):559-67. doi: 10.1002/hup.2443.


Objective: The aim was to study the association between use of antidepressant medication and suicidal ideation in different diagnostic groups in a large population-based cohort.

Methods: Information on prescribed drugs within the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 was collected at the age of 31 years with postal questionnaire (N= 8218). The presence of suicidal ideation was assessed via the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 questionnaire. We studied associations between suicidal ideation and antidepressant medication in various diagnostic and symptom groups, and it adjusted for symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Results: Suicidal ideation was associated with the use of antidepressant medication in all diagnostic groups, but the association disappeared with adjustment for other symptoms of depression and anxiety. Subjects who reported insomnia and used antidepressants had suicidal ideation more commonly than did subjects who were not using antidepressants even when other symptoms were adjusted for (p = 0.02). There were no statistically significant differences between antidepressant groups or doses.

Conclusion: In a large unselected cohort, antidepressant medication was not associated with increased suicidal ideation when other symptoms of depression and anxiety were taken into account. The assessment of insomnia might be useful for identifying individuals liable to have increased suicidal ideation while on antidepressant medication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antidepressive Agents