Explanatory Note: Antidepressants:
The newer antidepressants, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) emerged in the late 1980s/1990s, marketed as being capable of selectively targeting a chemical- serotonin-in the brain that was theorized to influence depression. This has remained a theory only.
Serotonin (of which about only 5% is found in the brain) is one of the chemicals by which brain cells signal each other. SSRIs prevent serotonin from being naturally reabsorbed and thus create continued stimulation of cells.
Norepinephrine is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland that increases blood pressure and rate and depth of breathing, raises the level of blood sugar, and decreases the activity of the intestines. Norepinephrine is very similar to its cousin, adrenaline.
Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) boost levels of norepinephrine in addition to serotonin. There is another SNRI, which is called Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors, and is largely prescribed for "ADHD" but carries the same suicide warning as SSRI and antidepressants.
Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs) are said to influence norepinephrine and dopamine, another chemical messenger that is similar to adrenaline.
*Akathisia: A, meaning "without" and kathisia, meaning "sitting,"
an inability to keep still. Patients pace about uncontrollably. The
side effect has been linked to assaultive, violent behavior.
Robert Whitaker, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill, (Perseus Publishing, New York, 2002), pp. 182, 186.
*Neuroleptic malignant syndrome: A potentially fatal toxic reaction
where patients break into fevers and become confused, agitated and extremely
rigid. An estimated 100,000 Americans have died from it after taking
the older antipsychotics.
*Tardive Dyskinesia: Tardive, meaning "late" and dyskinesia
meaning, "abnormal movement of muscles." Tardive Dyskinesia
is a permanent impairment of the power of voluntary movement of the
lips, tongue, jaw, fingers, toes and other body parts.
George Crane, "Tardive Dyskinesia in Patients Treated with Major Neuroleptics: A Review of the Literature," American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 124, Supplement, 1968, pp. 40-47.
There are no physical tests or scientific evidence to substantiate the theory that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression or any mental disorder.
Warnings & Studies
Note: The following list relates mostly to British Commonwealth and European drug alerts and studies and does not take into consideration the over 280 drug alerts and studies worldwide.
1997: Candace B. Pert, Research Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and credited as one of the researchers that helped develop Prozac, wrote that SSRIs "may also cause cardiovascular problems in some susceptible people after long-term use, which has become common practice despite the lack of safety studies." In 2002, she added, "They are supposed to help but they actually cause violence. There's scientific literature that supports that." Dr. Candace B. Pert, Letter to the Editor, TIME Magazine, 20 Oct. 1997, p. 8.
September 1997: Britain removed Cylert [pemoline]
from the market after reports of death related to liver toxicity in
people taking it. Cylert posed a threat of serious liver complications,
including liver failure resulting in death or liver transplantation.
Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, Teens - 2004, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 21 Apr. 2005, p. 7; "Cylert recall
2001: A British study reported an "increase
in hostility and aggression may be reported by patients taking benzodiazepines.
The effects range from talkativeness and excitement to aggressive and
Benzo.org.uk, citing British National Formulary, 2001.
February 2001: British professor C. Heather
Ashton reported cases of baby-battering, wife-beating and "grandmother-bashing"
could be attributed to people taking benzodiazepines.
Benzo.org.uk, citing Professor C. Heather Ashton, Benzodiazepines: How They Work and How To Withdraw, Feb. 2001.
2004: The British Healthcare Products Regulatory
Authority (MHRA, similar to the FDA) issued guidelines that children
should not be given most SSRIs because clinical trial data showed an
increased rate of harmful outcomes, including hostility.
"Antidepressant aggression concern," BBC News Online, 21 Sept. 2004.
October 15, 2004: The FDA ordered pharmaceutical
companies to add a "black box" warning to all antidepressants
because the drugs could cause suicidal thoughts and actions in children
and teenagers. The agency also directed the manufacturers to print and
distribute medication guides with every antidepressant prescription
and to inform patients of the risks.
"Suicidality in Children and Adolescents Being Treated With Antidepressant Medications," FDA Public Health Advisory, 15 Oct. 2004.
October 21, 2004: The New Zealand Medicines
Adverse Reactions Committee recommended that old and new antidepressants
not be administered to patients less than 18 years of age because of
the potential risk of suicide.
"New advice on prescribing anti-depressants," New Zealand Ministry of Health Media Release, 21 Oct. 2004.
December 2004: The Australian Therapeutic Goods
Administration said children and adolescents prescribed SSRI antidepressants
should be carefully monitored for the emergence of suicidal ideation.
In a study involving Prozac, it said, there was an increase in adverse
psychiatric events (acts and thoughts of suicide, self-harm, aggression
"Use of SSRI antidepressants in children and adolescents," Australian Adverse Drug Reactions Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 6, Dec. 2004.
December 9, 2004: The European Medicines Agency's
Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, representing 25 European
countries, recommended that product information should be changed for
antidepressants (including SSRIs, SNRIs) to warn of the risk of suicide-related
behavior in children and adolescents and of withdrawal reactions when
stopping treatment. This was reaffirmed in April 2005, warning that
the drugs increased suicide-related behavior and hostility in young
"European Medicines Agency finalises review of antidepressants in children and adolescents," European Medicines Agency Press Release, 25 Apr. 2005.
February 18, 2005: A study published in the
British Medical Journal determined that adults taking SSRI antidepressants
were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as patients given
placebo (a substance with no real effect; it contains no active ingredients
and is given to a patient in a clinical trial to assess and compare
the performance of a new drug).
Sarah Boseley, "Suicide fear from antidepressants," The Guardian (London), 18 Feb. 2005.
March 2005: The UK government's House of Commons
(Parliament) Health Committee released findings of its inquiry into
benzodiazepines and reported the side effects "are now known to
include excessive sedation, decreased attention, amnesia and sometimes
intractable dependence. Abrupt cessation can lead to severe withdrawal
symptoms, including convulsions in some patients. Short-term treatment
and a long tapering period is now recommended to limit these risks."
"The Influence on the Pharmaceutical Industry," House of Commons, UK, Health Committee, Vol. 1, Mar. 2005. p. 65.
July 16, 2005: The British Medical Journal
published a study, "Efficacy of antidepressants in adults,"
by Joanna Moncrieff, senior lecturer in psychiatry at University College
London who found that antidepressants, especially SSRIs, were no more
effective than placebo and did not reduce depression. In a media interview
Dr. Moncrieff stated, "The bottom line is that we really don't
have any good evidence that these drugs work."
Joanna Moncrieff and Irving Kirsch, "Efficacy of Antidepressants in Adults," British Medical Journal, Vol. 331, 16 July 2005, pp. 155-157.
August 2005: The Australian Therapeutic Goods
Administration found a relationship between SSRIs and suicidality, akathisia
(severe restlessness), agitation, nervousness and anxiety in adults.
It also determined that similar symptoms could occur during withdrawal
from the drugs.
"Suicidality with SSRIs: adults and children," Australian Adverse Drug Reactions Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 4, Aug. 2005.
August 19, 2005: The European Medicines Agency's
Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use issued its strongest
warning against child SSRI antidepressant use, stating that the drugs
caused suicide attempts and thoughts, aggression, hostility, oppositional
behavior and anger.
"Annex II," Commission Decision of 19-VIII-2005, Commission of the European Communities, 19 Aug. 2005.
August 22, 2005: Norwegian researchers determined
that patients taking SSRI antidepressants were seven times more likely
to experience suicide than those taking placebo.
Ivar Aursnes, et al., "Suicide Attempts in Clinical Trials with Paroxetine Randomised Against Placebo," BMC Medicine, Vol. 3, pp. 14-18.
September 28, 2005: The British National Health
Service's Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence warned that "all
antidepressant drugs have significant risks when given to children and
"Depression in Children and Young People," National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, Sept. 2005, pp. 16, 18 and 28.
May 12, 2006: GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer
of Paxil, wrote to doctors warning that Paxil increased the risk of
suicide in adults.
Benedict Carey and Gardiner Harris, "Antidepressant May Raise Suicide Risk," The New York Times, 12 May 2006.
December 14, 2007: The British Medicines and
Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in conjunction with the European
Medicines Agency (EMEA) published a warning that stated: "Doctors
are already aware of the risk of using Champix [varenicline in the UK
- a benzodiazepine-based drug, promoted for smoking cessation] in patients
who have an underlying mental illness. They also need to be aware of
the possibility that patients who are trying to stop smoking can develop
symptoms of depression, and they should advise their patients accordingly.
Patients who are taking Champix and develop suicidal thoughts should
stop their treatment and contact their doctor immediately."
"Europe-wide review recommends updates to product information for varenicline (brand name Champix)," MHRA, 14 Dec. 2008.
January 2008: The Pharmacovigilance Working
Party (advises on the safety and adverse reactions of medicinal products
authorized for use in the European Union) recommended an update to product
labeling and all antidepressant patient information leaflets to warn
about the increased risk of suicide in children and young adults taking
"Antidepressants and suicidal thoughts and behaviour," Pharmacovigilance Working Party, Jan. 2008.
January 5, 2008: The Lancet (Britain) published a study where the authors concluded "that the routine prescription of antipsychotic drugs early in the management of aggressive challenging behavior, even in low doses, should no longer be regarded as a satisfactory form of care." - Peter Tyrer, et al., "Risperidone, haloperidol, and placebo in the treatment of aggressive challenging behaviour in patients with intellectual disability: a randomized controlled trial," The Lancet, Vol. 371, 5 Jan. 2008.
January 22, 2008: The Annals of Pharmacotherapy
published a study on the risk of cerebrovascular (of or relating to
the brain and the blood vessels that supply it) events (CVE) associated
with antidepressant use and found that a "24% increased risk of
a CVE was noted in patients with current exposure to selective serotonin-reuptake
34% increased risk for current exposure to tricyclic
antidepressants (older form of antidepressant)
and 43% increased
risk for current exposure to other antidepressants."48
Yan Chen, et al., "Risk of Cerebrovascular Events [CVE] Associated with Antidepressant Use in Patients with Depression: A Population-Bases, Nested Case-Control Study," The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 177-184, 22 Jan. 2008
February 5, 2008: Britain's Medicines and Healthcare
Products Regulatory Agency advised that antidepressant manufacturers
would be required to update warnings about suicidal thoughts and behavior
to align with EU agreements, as noted above in January 2008.49
"Implementation of warnings on suicidal thoughts and behaviour in antidepressants," MHRA, 5 February 2008.
February 28, 2008 - "Prozac, used by 40m
people, does not work say scientists"
Analysis of unseen trials and other data concludes it is no better than placebo - http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/feb/26/mentalhealth.medicalresearch
June 1, 2010: Canada's University of Montreal's
Research Unit looked at 5124 pregnant women who had miscarriaged up
to 20 weeks of gestation and those who had not. Of those who miscarried,
284 (5.5 per cent) had taken antidepressants during pregnancy. SSRIs,
especially Seroxat (paroxetine) and also Effexor (venlafaxine) were
associated with increased risk of miscarriage as were higher daily doses
of either antidepressant. They confirmed a combination of different
antidepressants doubled the risk of miscarriages. The risk of miscarriage
were almost identical to another study with 937 women published in 2009.
-- Dr. Anick Berard, director of the University of Montreal's Research
Unit on Medications and Pregnancy at University Hospital Center Sainte-Justine
used information from the Quebec Pregnancy Registry to identify 5,124
women who had a spontaneous abortions between 1998 and 2003 -
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1283053/Antidepressants-increase-risk-miscarriage-new-study-warns.html#ixzz0phcQaQvP