Use of antiepileptic or benzodiazepine medication and suicidal ideation--The Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966

Epilepsy Behav. 2015 May;46:198-204. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2015.03.001. Epub 2015 Apr 29.


Both antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and benzodiazepines (BZDs) have previously been associated with an increased risk of suicidality. Our aim was to study the association between the use of conventional AEDs and BZDs and suicidal ideation in a large population-based cohort. Information on the medications used in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 was collected from the subjects at the age of 31 years, using a postal questionnaire (N=8211). The presence of suicidal ideation and other symptoms of depression and anxiety was assessed via the Hopkins Symptom Checklist - 25 questionnaire. The associations between medications and suicidal ideation were studied in different diagnostic groups and adjusted for symptoms of depression and anxiety. No difference was observed in suicidal ideation between AED users (n=54) and nonusers (n=8157). Subjects using BZDs (n=147) had greater suicidal ideation compared with nonusers (n=8064). Antiepileptic drug and benzodiazepine users more often exhibited other depression and anxiety symptoms. After adjustment for these symptoms, both AED and BZD users had less suicidal ideation compared with nonusers. In conclusion, in this population-based cohort, neither the use of AEDs nor that of BZDs was found to be associated with increased suicidal ideation when the symptoms of depression and anxiety were taken into account.

Keywords: Antiepileptic drugs; Anxiety; Benzodiazepines; Cohort study; Depression; Suicidal ideation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Benzodiazepines / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Suicidal Ideation*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Benzodiazepines