Could Your Antidepressant Do More Harm Than Good?

By Ed Greenberger, THELAW.TV

Depression can strike at any time, and there's a good chance it could affect you or someone you love. Statistics show that ten percent of U.S. adults will develop depressive symptoms, which can include sleeping disorders, mood swings and suicidal thoughts. Even children are susceptible, with one in 33 suffering clinical depression.

Doctors often prescribe antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) to their patients who show signs of depression. However, SSRIs have come under fire recently for having potentially serious side effects.

"If you're considering taking these anti-depressant medications, you should know about the risks -- especially if you're a pregnant woman," says attorney Martin Sweet of legal information website THELAW.TV.

A new Canadian study shows a link between SSRIs such as Paxil and high blood pressure in pregnant women. The study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, found that women who take Paxil during or after pregnancy face an 80 percent risk for developing hypertension. The study showed that pregnant women taking any SSRI were 60 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure, while those taking any form of antidepressant were 50 percent more likely.

Expectant mothers might not be the only ones at risk. In 2010, Bloomberg News reported that $2.4 billion set aside by Paxil manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline included the settlement of lawsuits involving Paxil-related birth defects in newborn children. These birth defects reportedly include pulmonary hypertension.

SSRIs have also been linked to diabetes in both men and women. A study published last week in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows taking moderate to high doses of antidepressants for more than two years is associated with an 84 percent increase in risk for diabetes. The researchers found the risk was particularly notable for Paxil. Although researchers are not certain of the reason for the link, some experts believe it might be due to the weight gain often associated with taking antidepressants.

Other potential SSRI side effects include:

  • Violent behavior
  • Immune system problems
  • Stillbirths
  • Brittle bones

"Antidepressants do wonders for many people, but there can be significant side effects," explains Jacksonville, Florida medical malpractice attorney Frank Ashton of Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, PA. "If you or your newborn child has suffered any of these effects as the result of taking one of these medications, you may have a defective product liability claim or a medical malpractice claim."

If you believe you have a claim, you should contact a lawyer.