Association between irritability and suicidal ideation in three clinical trials of adults with major depressive disorder

Manish K. Jha, Abu Minhajuddin, Cherise Chin Fatt, Katharina Kircanski, Argyris Stringaris, Ellen Leibenluft, Madhukar H. Trivedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Irritability in pediatric samples is associated with higher rates of subsequent suicide-related outcomes. No study, to date, has evaluated the longitudinal association between irritability and suicidal ideation (SI) in adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). This report evaluated whether irritability is associated with SI at the same visit (i.e., concurrently) and whether early changes in irritability with antidepressant treatment predict subsequent levels of SI. Participants of Combining Medications to Enhance Depression Outcomes (CO-MED, n = 665), Establishing Moderators and Biosignatures of Antidepressant Response in Clinical Care (EMBARC, n = 296), and Suicide Assessment Methodology Study (SAMS, n = 266) were included. Repeated-measures mixed model analyses evaluated concurrent association throughout the trial between irritability (five-item irritability domain of Concise Associated Symptom Tracking scale) and SI (three-item suicidal thoughts factor of Concise Health Risk Tracking scale) after controlling for overall depression (excluding suicidality-related item), and predicted subsequent levels of SI (repeated observations from week-2-to-week-8) based on early (baseline-to-week-2) changes in irritability after controlling for early changes in overall depression. Higher irritability was associated with higher SI concurrently; estimates (standard error) were 0.18 (0.02, p < 0.0001), 0.64 (0.02, p < 0.0001), and 0.26 (0.04, p < 0.0001) in CO-MED, EMBARC, and SAMS respectively. Greater baseline-to-week-2 reductions in irritability predicted lower levels of subsequent SI; estimates (standard errors) were −0.08 (0.03, p = 0.023), −0.50 (0.05, p < 0.0001), and −0.12 (0.05, p = 0.024) in CO-MED, EMBARC, and SAMS, respectively. Controlling for anxiety or insomnia produced similar results. In conclusion, irritability and SI were consistently linked in adults with MDD. These findings support careful assessment of irritability in suicide risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2147-2154
Number of pages8
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Association between irritability and suicidal ideation in three clinical trials of adults with major depressive disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this