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Study questions safety of antidepressants

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada are questioning whether widely prescribed antidepressants do more harm than good. Their study is published in the online journal Frontiers in Psychology.

An article about the study in PsychCentral quotes lead author Dr. Paul Andrews as saying: “We need to be much more cautious about the widespread use of these drugs. It’s important because millions of people are prescribed antidepressants each year, and the conventional wisdom about these drugs is that they’re safe and effective.”

Most contemporary antidepressants are a class of compounds called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain.

But serotonin plays a role in other bodily functions, including digestion, forming blood clots at wound sites, reproduction and development.

According to the study, antidepressants can bring on the following problems:

  • Decreased sexual stimulation and function and sperm development in adults.
  • Digestive disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and bloating.
  • Abnormal bleeding and stroke in the elderly.

The study also mentions the risk of developmental problems in infants as a result of antidepressant use. A number of studies have linked the use of SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft during pregnancy to birth defects, including serious heart and lung ailments.

See the study here: http://www.frontiersin.org/evolutionary_psychology/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00117/abstract