An­tide­pres­sants get thumbs-down

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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

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