A new study in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Psychology questions whether the class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, do any good.
A report on the study in British newspaper Daily Mail said research suggests that SSRIs may actually make depression worse in the long term. The article suggests those findings, combined with numerous studies linking SSRIs to other health problems, raise serious questions about SSRIs’ reputation as “wonder pills that would banish depressive blues for good.”
The pills work by regulating the levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain. According to lead researcher Paul Andrews, the problem is that serotonin plays a role in a wide range of body and brain functions. And altering the levels can disrupt the physical processes in which serotonin plays a part.
The story mentions research indicating that many patients fare no better on SSRIs than they do on placebos. And Andrews argues that the SSRIs’ interference with the brain’s serotonin levels leaves patients vulnerable to a “rebound” effect of even worse depression.
The article also mentions studies linking SSRI use to a range of health concerns. For example, 2009 research on Danish children found a significant increase in the risk of heart defects among babies whose mothers had used SSRIs in early pregnancy. Other studies have linked SSRI use during pregnancy to serious lung defects in babies.
SSRI antidepressants include Zoloft and Prozac.
Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries.