Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a popular form of antidepressant. These drugs are meant to better utilize the neurotransmitter serotonin as well as the metabolic processing of stress hormones, thus easing one’s symptoms of depression and anxiety.
However, SSRIs have been linked to worsening signs of depression, including a 6% increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts. SSRI use has also been linked to a serious condition known as serotonin syndrome, which is caused when unsafe levels of the chemical are present in the body.
The most commonly prescribed SSRI antidepressants are Celexa, Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil . Although SSRIs were intended to treat depression, they are sometimes given for off-label problems such as social anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.
SSRIs and the link to suicide
The most serious among SSRI side effects has pertained to patients and suicide. Many patients and their families have charged that SSRIs caused suicidal ideation and aggressive behavior of all kinds.
In 2004, the FDA called for a “black-box” warning about suicide risk in children using SSRIs but not for adults. Two years later, the FDA recommended that the warning also apply to people from age 18 to 25 who take the drugs. [Timeline of events]
SSRIs and pregnancy
When taken by pregnant women, SSRIs can affect newborns. Although there is no evidence yet that they lead directly to congenital malformations, these drugs have been linked with complications such as neonatal abstinence syndrome and persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN).
One study found that mothers who took SSRIs after their 20th week of pregnancy were six times more likely to have babies suffering from PPHN, often requiring intensive medical care.
Controversy over marketing SSRIs
SSRIs are the subject of ongoing discussion and controversy. Several published studies have shown that SSRIs are no better than placebos at relieving symptoms of depression. Some critics contend that overzealous doctors have prescribed SSRIs, even when their use was not necessary. [More expert testimony]
Learn the answers to frequently asked questions about SSRIs, serotonin syndrome and antidepressant side effects.
Many lawsuits have been filed against the makers of SSRIs. If you or a loved one has been injured in any such way, contact an SSRI attorney to learn about your legal options. Call the law office of Hissey Kientz, toll-free at (866) 275-4454, or fill out a free online case evaluation form located to the right of this page.