Suicide and lesser forms of intentional self-harm behaviors produce devastating medical, social and economic costs. Self-harm is integrally related to depressive disorders and Borderline Personality Disorder. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), like escitalopram, are front-line pharmacological treatments for these disorders, putatively regulating depressed mood and reducing suicidality. However, data from case studies and retrospective meta-analyses of depression clinical trials is mixed, with some (but not all ) studies suggesting that during the first months of treatment, SSRIs may increase the risk of suicidal ideation in select individuals, particularly younger individuals. These post-hoc analyses, though informative, are based on studies that provide limited sampling of the self-harm domain. No study, to date, has implemented a direct prospective examination of the effects of early SSRI use on self-harm thoughts and behaviors using a multi-method measurement involving both the laboratory (standard self-aggression paradigm: SAP) and home environments (ecological momentary assessment: EMA). Also, no study has examined the influence of impaired 5-HT function and emotion dysregulation as moderators of outcome with escitalopram. The proposed randomized clinical trial will prospectively assess the impact of eight weeks exposure to SSRI treatment on self-harm ideation and behavior among a sample of 200 subjects with Borderline Personality Disorder and current major depression. After a one week single-blind placebo lead-in, participants will be randomly assigned double blind to either placebo or escitalopram for eight (8) weeks. The primary dependent variable will be EMA of self-harm ideation and behavior obtained several times each day. Self-harm will also be assessed using a laboratory analogue task (SAP) at baseline and again after the eight week trial. Age will be evaluated as a moderator of SSRI response. 5-HT dysfunction and emotion dysregulation will be evaluated as candidate moderators of SSRI response. 5-HT functioning will be assessed using psychophysiological (loudness dependence of the auditory evoked potential: LDAEP) and genetic (5-HT transporter promoter polymorphism: 5-HTTLPR) markers. Measures of emotion dysregulation will include trait aggression, impulsivity and socioemotional information processing. At the conclusion of the eight-week randomized trial, all participants will receive eight weeks of escitalopram administered single-blind, with continued EMA and other assessment.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed randomized clinical trial will prospectively assess the impact of 8 weeks exposure to SSRI treatment on self-harm ideation and behavior among a sample of 200 subjects with Borderline Personality Disorder and current major depression. After a one week single-blind placebo lead-in, participants will be randomly assigned double blind to either placebo or escitalopram daily for eight (8) weeks. The primary dependent variable will be EMA of self-harm ideation and behavior obtained several times each day. Selfharm will also be assessed using a laboratory analogue task (SAP) at baseline and again after the eight week trial. Age, 5-HT dysfunction and emotion dysregulation will be evaluated as potential moderators of SSRI response.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01MH084904-05
Application #
8662789
Study Section
Interventions Committee for Adult Disorders (ITVA)
Program Officer
Kozak, Michael J
Project Start
2010-08-25
Project End
2014-11-30
Budget Start
2014-06-01
Budget End
2014-11-30
Support Year
5
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$65,859
Indirect Cost
$23,642
Name
University of Chicago
Department
Psychiatry
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
005421136
City
Chicago
State
IL
Country
United States
Zip Code
60637