Hyderabad: Medicines that are used to treat illnesses like epilepsy, depression, obesity and other mental health issues too are found to increase the risk of suicidal tendencies among patients.
A recent study on anti-epileptic drugs has shown heightened risk of suicide suggesting that such patients must be monitored on a regular basis. While neurologists check epilepsy, it is important that they ask patients if they are depressed or low or having extremely negative thoughts about themselves.
This is imperative because presently other doctors are brought on the table only when there is an adverse incidence by which time the patient would have undergone a terrible time. There is a growing consensus that taking preventive steps was paramount.
Dr Sai Kumar Katam, president of Doctor of Pharmacy Association explained, “It is known that anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs increase the risk of suicides in children, teenagers and young adults in the first few months of treatment. That they incite violent or self-destructive actions is the subject of continuing controversy. In 2004, the FDA first initiated a Black Box Warning on these drugs. It clearly mentions risk of suicidal thoughts, hostility and agitated behaviour.”
Since 1990, there has been a steady rise in prescribing anti-depressant medicines to teenage and young-adult patients. It has been found that the medicines are being abused and there is extensive counselling carried out. The incidence of prescription abuse is also on a rise in India but due to lack of data this remains a grey area.
Medicinal drugs are mostly used by drug addicts and they have a network and chain of suppliers to cater to their demands.
Telangana Pharmacist Association President Dr Sanjay Reddy explained, “The police busts such rackets from time to time and there is also a regulation by the drug controller. However, drug abuse remains rampant. The biggest problem is being noted in opiates and benzodiazepines as they contain addictive chemicals. These are given for a range of mental disorders and are a major part of the treatment. Over a period of time, patients get addicted to those drugs.”
With a suicide incidence of 18 per one lakh population in India, there is a need to look into various reasons that are driving individual to suicides.
A senior psychiatrist, working with a de-addiction centre on condition of anonymity, explained, “We are seeing people who recover after the first round of treatment only to realise later that they have not got addicted to medicines. These cases are because there is no support from the family. Hence when they go back to their social environs they are not able to cope up. Medicines are easily available as it was a part of the treatment hence is not suspected till it is too late.”
In order to keep a vigil on such patients, there is a need for counselling during and after the treatment. This requires trained manpower and support systems at the ground level, which, unfortunately, are not developed to the required levels....