Tetrabenazine Not Associated With Increased Depression or Suicide

Investigators examine the association between tetrabenazine use and incidence of depression and/or suicidal ideation.

Tetrabenazine use does not lead to increased depression or suicide incidence, according to a study published in Neurology. As such, it could be a safe treatment option for individuals with Huntington Disease and depression.

This retrospective, cross-sectional study included 543 participants using tetrabenazine and 3548 non-users. Tetrabenazine users were at no increased risk for depression (odds ratio [OR] 0.78; P =.064) compared with non-users and were at a lower risk for suicide (OR 0.61; P =.043). Those in the tetrabenazine group with previous depression showed a lower rate of suicidal ideation (OR 0.57; P=.028) and depression (OR 0.71; P =.016) than non-users with previous depression. In individuals with no previous depression, there was also no relative increase among tetrabenazine users compared with non-users in the incidence of depression (OR 1.59; P =.182) nor suicidality (OR 1.43; P =.66).

The Enroll-HD database was used to supply data for this study. Study researchers utilized multiple logistic regression analyses in evaluating whether depression and/or suicidal tendencies are linked with use of tetrabenazine. Participants were classified for separate analyses into the following categories: (1) all participants, (2) participants with previous depression, (3) participants with no previous depression. The adjustments made included total motor score, CAG repeat length, total functional capacity, score on Symbol Digit Modalities Test, disease duration, sex, use of antipsychotics and antidepressants, and history of depression.

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The study researchers conclude that “[tetrabenazine] use was not associated with an increased incidence of depression or suicidality. These findings suggest that [tetrabenazine] may be safe to use in patients with Huntington disease who have a history of depression.”


Schultz JL, Killoran A, Nopoulos PC, Chabal CC, Moser DJ, Kamholz JA. Evaluating depression and suicidality in tetrabenazine users with Huntington disease [published online June 20, 2018]. Neurology. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005817