medical research news

This week’s digest takes a look at antidepressants and suicide/aggressive behavior, screen time and kids along with healthcare and the cultural context for our military veterans

antidepressant medication

Antidepressants (SSRI's) & Risk of Suicide and Aggressive Behavior

The issue of antidepressants or SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) medication use and the associated risk of suicide and aggressive behavior is a much-discussed issue here at SNJ Associates. We’ve been reviewing the research regarding antidepressants among young children, teens and adults for years and have been strong proponents of the research and medical communities making this issue a top priority.


Families of those suffering from depression and on antidepressants have described issues with their loved ones, which were too often dismissed by their clinicians. Similarly, among researchers professing a hypothesis stating a relationship between the use of antidepressants and both suicide and/or aggressive behavior,  particularly among younger age individuals could get you run out of the conference room or shunned at the office for such outrageous claims.

A huge step in bringing forth the evidence of the association between antidepressants and risks has occurred and was recently reported in the Telegraph in the UK among many other publications around the world. The single largest review was completed regarding antidepressants and risk of suicide at the Nordic Cochrane Centre and analysed by University College London (UCL). An editorial was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The results are clear – very clear in fact, antidepressants doubled the risk of suicide and aggressive behavior in individuals under the age of 18.

The most disturbing piece of the findings was the purposeful deception on the part of the pharmaceutical companies whereAfter comparing clinical trial information to actual patient reports the scientists found pharmaceutical companies had regularly misclassified deaths and suicidal events in people taking anti-depressants to “favour their products (Telegraph, 27 Jan., 2016).

Many advocates around the globe are concerned about the use of these antidepressants among our young people, prescribing patterns, research information and the overall impact of the use of antidepressant medication for all individuals. A collection of stories across all different types of SSRI’s and circumstances is available at SSRIstories Antidepressant Nightmares.



It is important to note that the medication does help many people and is a necessary step under certain circumstances. However, industry-sponsored research by pharmaceutical companies, who influence the data and release less than robust, some would say tainted and misinformation, in order to gain profits from drugs prescribed by our health care providers must be stopped. For more about the Influence and Bias in Research and here along with the issue of Outcome Switching in Clinical Trials please follow the links provided.

screen time-children

Screen Time and Our Kids

We are going to rise to the challenge to start the conversation about our kids from birth to adults and screen time. A recent article posted at The Conversation asks the question: How Much Screen Time is Good for Our Kids?.  A new documentary Screenager’ [GreekWire] focuses on the negative impact of screen time and our teenagers – you can access the trailer at the link above. The documentary discusses cell phone use, gaming, sexting and more. Importantly, this piece of research looks into how relationships are impacted by the use of screens.  

At the same time, a piece from Parent Co. (link below) is highlighting that among the negative aspects of our children’s screen time including eye-strain, increased obesity levels and even disintegrated gray matter of our children’s brains, there is a flip side, a positive impact too.

screen time

Specifically, there are rewards such as encouraging and teaching children to control their own lives, increased technology skills and even a positive relationship among those children, who struggle with books and content when they are able to use a tablet instead [The Benefits of Screen Time for Kids: A Look at the Data, Parent Co.]

The reality is that the impact of screens on our children from birth to adulthood is a complex and multi-factorial issue. Of course, there are both positive and negative impacts depending on the content our children are accessing, the amount of time on screens and the influence of other items in their environment such as family characteristics, social networks, and socioeconomic status. The list goes on.


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Undoubtedly this is a difficult and complex issue for so many parents, grandparents and caregivers and  where strong opinions on both sides of the issue are found. At SNJ Associates, we are interested in hearing what parents think about screen time and what strategies families use to address the impact of screens in their family.

military serviceman

Healthcare and Military Veterans

An interesting article in Medical Research Today from researchers at the University at Buffalo regarding healthcare and military veterans lead by Lisa Butler. The article indicates the culture and context of military life are key components for good health care for our military veterans. Health care providers (and systems) need to understand and incorporate the uniqueness and needs of the military community into the model of care in order to provide the best health care services and experience for military veterans and their families.

military serviceman

A unique perspective of this particular study design was taking a population of veterans from the community versus veterans from within the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) only. Historically, veteran research uses samples of veterans, who attend VA services, which the author points out is about 1 in every 3 veterans. By looking at veterans from outside VA services, this study has a community-based approach and reaches some military veterans, who would  otherwise be excluded from VA research.

We have long understood the importance of cultural sensitivity in patient-centered care among populations and, the military community is no exception. The research team in Buffalo states the title of the article: “We don’t complain about the small things” speaks directly to just one characteristic, a behavior common in the military community. Understanding the military culture, knowing the characteristics of the community and individuals are important to providing good health services. Additionally, incorporating such information into both the plan of care for individuals and providing access to the systems of health care services for veterans are important to the military population in order to ensure the best options for health care are provided to military veterans and their families.


“We Don’t Complain About Little Things”: Views of Veterans and Military Family Members on Health Care Gaps and Needs

Lisa D. Butler , Braden K. Linn , Mary Ann Meeker , Katie McClain-Meeder , Thomas H. Nochajski

Military Behavioral Health  Vol. 3, Iss. 2, 2015

*Please note, SNJ Associates was only able to provide the Abstract to this article as it is not available in the public domain at this time.

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