Evidence continues to pile up about the serious risks of taking antidepressants, and a new study provides additional proof that these risks extend beyond the popular SSRI class of drugs. A study out of the University of Nottingham links some popular antidepressants to a higher rate of suicide and self-harm among people suffering from depression between the ages of 20 and 64.
While past studies have generally focused on antidepressants from a category known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), this one found that those taking other common antidepressants, such as mirtazapine, trazodone, and venlafaxine (Effexor), had even higher rates of suicide and self-harm than those taking SSRIs, which have also been connected to such outcomes.
Moreover, the researchers found that suicide and self-harm rates were the highest during the first 28 days of taking the antidepressants, and the effect remained 28 days after discontinuing the treatment.
The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, involved 238,963 patients who had been clinically diagnosed with depression. The lead researcher, Dr. Carol Coupland, is calling for more studies into this connection and is urging doctors to consider these risks when prescribing antidepressants. She also suggests that doctors monitor patients very carefully within the first 28 days of starting antidepressants and 28 days after stopping the treatment.
The researchers caution people taking these drugs who are concerned about these results not to suddenly stop taking their medications without first seeking medical advice as the effects do continue even after quitting the drugs.
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Unfortunately, doctors are prescribing antidepressants in greater numbers than ever, which means more and more people are being placed at risk of suicide or self-harm unnecessarily, not to mention the fact that many of the people behind high-profile mass shootings in recent years were on antidepressants at the time of their rampage. Doctors give these drugs out not only for depression but also many other medical problems, including insomnia, chronic pain, and migraines. In fact, the CDC reports that 11 percent of teenagers and adults are taking antidepressants. The risk of suicide and violent behavior is higher in everyone who takes antidepressants, not just those who have depression.
Even if your depression is so bad you are willing to take a chance with these harmful drugs, it’s important to keep in mind that many of them have been proven to be ineffective anyway. A study published in The Lancet found that only one out of 14 antidepressants – fluoxetine –worked better than a placebo. That study also noted a higher risk of suicidal attempts and thoughts among people taking venlafaxine than five other antidepressants. With more than half of all antidepressant studies being funded by Big Pharma, it’s important to seek out unbiased studies to learn the truth and avoid putting yourself at unnecessary risk.
Nevertheless, depression remains a very serious problem that affects many Americans, and it does need to be dealt with. While antidepressants are generally not a safe and effective solution, there are plenty of other ways to deal with depression that will not put your mental or physical health at risk. Talk therapy can be an effective way for people to equip themselves with the tools needed to cope with their feelings throughout their entire lifetime. Meditation and yoga have also been shown to help relieve depression. Eating a clean diet and working out regularly can also make a difference.