New study analyzes antidepressant risks vs. benefits

In a new study published on April 24, 2012, researchers set out to determine whether antidepressant risks outweigh their benefits. The study, titled “Primum non nocere: an evolutionary analysis of whether antidepressants do more harm than good,” was published online in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Psychology. Investigators reviewed existing studies of the effects of anti-depressant medications and found that “the weight of current evidence suggests that, in general, antidepressants are neither safe nor effective,” and that “the benefits of antidepressants are generally outweighed by their costs.” They “generally do more harm than good,” the researchers concluded.

The authors noted that while they had “difficulty finding strong evidence of beneficial effects, it is possible that antidepressants have a significant beneficial effect not yet identified.” Contrary to the commonly held belief that antidepressants are effective in the treatment of depression, the authors cite “recent research [that] strongly suggests that they are only modestly effective at best.” Even among those people for whom antidepressant treatment initially is effective, long-term use is associated with a significant reduction in effectiveness. As a result, investigators found, patients sometimes suffer a full-blown relapse of their symptoms after long-term antidepressant use.

Seratonin, like norepinephrine (NE), and dopamine (DA), belong to a class of biochemicals called monoamines. Antidepressant drugs increase the amount of seratonin in brain to regulate mood. Seratonin also naturally exists in the gut and blood plasma. The authors reasoned that because of their broad effects on adaptive processes and the widespread distribution of seratonin throughout the brain and body, antidepressants could have several adverse health effects. The researchers stated that “antidepressants disrupt the functioning of the homeostatic mechanisms that regulate serotonin throughout the body, and our review shows that antidepressants have adverse effects on every major system regulated by serotonin.”

They observed that despite an abundance of research on antidepressants, there was not much focussing on the effects of seratonin on overall patient health and well-being. They conducted a thorough review and analysis of the existing scientific literature and supporting data.

Adverse effects to the digestive system include irritable bowel syndrome, with associated abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, bloating, and headache. SSRI antidepressants were noted to inhibit blood clotting and result in an increased the risk of abnormal bleeding. Most antidepressants have been found to impair sexual functioning in both women and men.

Among the most alarming adverse effects of antidepressants occur when they are used by pregnant women. Use SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of congenital birth defects. Third trimester SSRI use has been found to cause an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn (PPHN).

If your baby suffered birth defects after antidepressant use during pregnancy, you may be entitle to substantial financial compensation and should speak with an experienced antidepressant lawsuit attorney right away.

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