An­tide­pres­sants may raise death risk, says study

Business Standard - - ECONOMY - PRESS TRUST OF IN­DIA

An­tide­pres­sant drugs — com­monly pre­scribed to re­duce de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety — may sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the risk of death by pre­vent­ing mul­ti­ple or­gans from func­tion­ing prop­erly, a study has warned.

It is widely known that brain sero­tonin af­fects mood, and that most com­monly used an­tide­pres­sant treat­ment for de­pres­sion blocks the ab­sorp­tion of sero­tonin by neu­rons.

How­ever, less known is the fact that all the ma­jor or­gans of the body — the heart, kid­neys, lungs, liver — use sero­tonin from the blood­stream.

An­tide­pres­sants block the ab­sorp­tion of sero­tonin in th­ese or­gans as well, and the re­searchers warn that an­tide­pres­sants could in­crease the risk of death by pre­vent­ing mul­ti­ple or­gans from func­tion­ing prop­erly.

The re­searchers re­viewed stud­ies in­volv­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of people and found that an­tide­pres­sant users had a 33 per cent higher chance of death than non-users.

An­tide­pres­sant users also had a 14 per cent higher risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar events, such as strokes and heart at­tacks.

“We are very con­cerned by th­ese re­sults. They sug­gest that we shouldn’t be tak­ing an­tide­pres­sant drugs with­out un­der­stand­ing pre­cisely how they in­ter­act with the body,” said Paul Andrews, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at McMaster Univer­sity in Canada who led the re­search.

Taken by one in eight adult Amer­i­cans, an­tide­pres­sants are among the most fre­quently used med­i­ca­tions. They are of­ten pre­scribed by fam­ily doc­tors with­out a for­mal di­ag­no­sis of de­pres­sion, on the as­sump­tion they are safe.

Since de­pres­sion it­self can be deadly — people with de­pres­sion are at an in­creased risk of sui­cide, stroke and heart at­tack — many physi­cians think that an­tide­pres­sants could save lives by re­duc­ing de­pres­sive symp­toms. “I think people would be much less will­ing to take th­ese drugs if they were aware how lit­tle is known about their im­pact out­side of the brain, and that what we do know points to an in­creased risk of death,” said Marta Maslej, from McMaster Univer­sity.

The find­ings point to the need for more re­search on how an­tide­pres­sants ac­tu­ally work, said Benoit Mul­sant, a psy­chi­a­trist at the Univer­sity of Toronto.

The re­searchers found that an­tide­pres­sants are not harm­ful for people with car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases such as heart disease and di­a­betes.

PHOTO: ISTOCK

Re­searchers warn that an­tide­pres­sants could in­crease the risk of death by pre­vent­ing mul­ti­ple or­gans from func­tion­ing prop­erly

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