Antiepileptic drugs and suicide: A systematic review of adverse effects

Pili Ferrer, Elena Ballarín, Mònica Sabaté, Xavier Vidal, Marietta Rottenkolber, Justyna Amelio, Joerg Hasford, Sven Schmiedl, Luisa Ibáñez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Since the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) report on antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and suicide risk was released (2008), several studies have been published on this controversial relationship. This systematic review (SR) gives an updated approach to this health issue. Summary: We searched 6 databases. We ultimately included 11 publications: 4 cohort studies, 1 case-crossover study, 2 community case-control studies, and 4 SRs. Overall, 1 SR described studies already included; 3 studies reported a 2- to 4-fold overall increase in risk; 1 study reported an increased risk of suicide among epilepsy patients on AEDs with high risk of depression; 1study showed a protective effect among epilepsy patients; 2 studies were conducted with patients with bipolar disorder (1 showed a protective effect, whereas the other showed a 3-fold increase in risk of suicide), and the other 3 studies reported results for single AEDs. Several biases affected the published results. Key Messages: There is no clear evidence of an association between the use of AEDs and an increased risk of suicide because of the heterogeneity in the studies at the clinical and methodological level. A future study should cover all indications for use, retrieve information from a healthcare database, and include a defined set of covariates to avoid bias. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-120
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • Adverse effects
  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Review
  • Suicide


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