Antidepressants get thumbs-down
LONDON: Taking antidepressants could increase the risk of an early death by a third, a major study suggests. Researchers claim that the drugs do more harm than good and that their use should be severely curtailed.
Psychiatrists disputed the latest findings, arguing that they have been safely used for years and offer a lifeline for depressed people.
However, the study suggests that the risk of death when taking them is much greater than previously thought – among those who do not have heart disease – because they thin the blood.
Scientists at McMaster University in Canada combined the results from 17 previous studies, analysing the impact on nearly 380 000 people. Their analysis suggested just a 9% increased risk of death among those who took antidepressants when compared to those who did not, a result they admitted was not statistically significant. But they then removed the people suffering from cardiovascular disease from the findings, and found the chance of death among the remaining patients jumped to 33%.
Scientists believe this is because antidepressants are also a blood thinner. However, among people without heart disease, it increases the risk of a major haemorrhage or internal bleeding.
Professor David Baldwin, a psychiatrist at Southampton University and chairman of the psychopharmacology committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the study unfortunately had major flaws.
“Depressed patients have higher risks of a range of physical health problems, all of which carry a risk of increased mortality, and antidepressants are often prescribed for a range of problems other than depression, including chronic pain and insomnia, which also increase mortality.”
He added: “The analysis included patients who were prescribed antidepressants at any dose and for any duration, but the analysis takes no account of this.” – Daily Mail