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"Everything We Need for Life and Godliness" - 2 Pet. 1:3 ... Dr. Ed Bulkley is President of the International Association of Biblical Counselors. For more information, go to

Saturday, August 12, 2006

New Suicidality Warning for Paxil - Dr. Paul J. Dean

The issue of medication is raised frequently for the biblical counselor. Manifold are the dangers inherent in the notion that a category of mental problems exists as distinct from spiritual problems or physiological problems that are objectively verifiable. The danger increases when the idea that these unverifiable problems are associated with the physical brain and medication is embraced as the solution. Among others, biblical counselors have long warned of the dangers involved in the hit and miss method of chemical introduction when little is known concerning the effects of such. A new report from the FDA Patient Safety News is but one among many that should give us even more pause concerning psychotropic medication.

According to the aforementioned report, “GlaxoSmithKline is notifying healthcare professionals about new warnings on the risk of suicidality with Paxil (paroxetine) and Paxil CR. These labeling changes relate to adult patients, especially young adults, ages 18 to 24.”

“The company recently conducted a meta-analysis of clinical trials in adult patients taking paroxetine that looked at suicidal behavior and ideation. These patients had a variety of psychiatric disorders, including Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), other depression, and non-depressive disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

“As a result of these findings, the company says that it is important that all patients, especially young adults, be carefully monitored during paroxetine therapy regardless of the condition being treated.”

The risk of suicide is a serious issue, especially when such medication is prescribed for a variety of presenting symptoms and not merely those connected to depression. Even so, it is common to treat persons who are suicidal with medication that clearly warns of increased risk of suicidality. I myself have counseled individuals in just such circumstances. Where is the logic there?

Reports of suicidality in young persons taking certain psychotropic medications have been out for some time now. And yet, consider what a pharmacist friend of mine noted: “Notice how the age range (18-24yrs) in this suicide warning is creeping upward. Remember, a similar warning was issued for younger teens with another SSRI antidepressant. Won't it be interesting when all age groups get the same warning about suicide? These neuro-chemical enhancing medications are highly specific and should be taken with caution, fully considering the risk/benefit ratio.”

It will indeed be interesting when all age groups get the same warning. One wonders if people will get the message: these drugs may produce an effect but not without great risk. And, even with the effect, do they produce a cure? The answer to that question is an unqualified “no” by all accounts. To rephrase, these neuro-chemical enhancing medications should be rejected in favor of Christ and the sufficiency of His word to help us in our time of need.


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