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expert reaction to study on gabapentinoids and risk of suicidal behaviour

Research published in The BMJ suggests that gabapentinoids (drugs used for epilepsy, pain and anxiety)  are associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviour, unintentional overdoses, head/body injuries, and road traffic incidents and offences. 


Prof Ley Sander, Medical Director at Epilepsy Society and Professor of Neurology at UCL, said:

“There is a well recognised bi-directional link between epilepsy and psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression. The suicide rate among people with epilepsy is higher than in the general population and this study helps elucidate a potential link between the gabapentinoids and suicidal behaviour, and other behavioural problems too.

“When treating epilepsy it is essential that we take a holistic approach and don’t simply focus on seizure control as the main outcome. We must also look at the impact of a prescribed drug on the person’s mental wellbeing. And we must understand and address any pre-existing psychiatric issues they may have prior to treatment. It is interesting to see that in this study, pregabalin appeared to be associated with greater risk than gabapentin. This underlines the importance of further research to really understand the potential effects of these drugs to help with the most appropriate prescribing.”


‘Associations between gabapentinoids and suicidal behaviour, unintentional overdoses, injuries, road traffic incidents, and  violent crime: population based cohort study in Sweden’ by Yasmina Molero et al. was published in The BMJ at 23:30 UK time on Wednesday 12th June.


Declared interests

None received

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