RCPsych President responds to newspaper coverage on antidepressants

Online news
24 April 2023

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has written to national newspapers responding to recent articles erroneously linking antidepressants to suicide. Here is the full text of the letter. 

“I was disappointed to read your article, which has potential to unjustifiably worry readers who are taking anti-depressant medication or know someone who is. 

“The study cited in your article found some individuals who died by suicide were taking antidepressants at the time. This is mere association. It does not demonstrate a causal link. It is a fundamental principle of science that correlation does not equate to causation. To suggest otherwise is simply wrong.   

“The overwhelming body of medical evidence tells us antidepressants help to reduce the symptoms of and improve the quality of life for adults with moderate and severe depression, as well as anxiety and other mental illnesses. 

“While antidepressants can control symptoms, they do not necessarily treat the underlying cause of the depression or eradicate it. For this reason, antidepressants are recommended to be prescribed alongside talking therapies for treatment of depression. 

“Ultimately, the choice of treatment should always be a shared decision between patient and doctor, based on clinical need, medical evidence and the preferences of the patient."

Dr Adrian James 
President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists 


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