SSRI Antidepressents Associated with Risk of Bleeding in the Brain

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 SSRI Antidepressents Associated with Risk of Bleeding in the BrainOverview: People who take a common class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may have a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, or bleeding in the brain. According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, SSRI users may be 40 to 50 percent more likely to experience brain bleeds. SSRIs are already associated with a number of side effects, many of which include birth defects.

  • A new study published in the Neurology journal finds that SSRIs users are 40 to 50 percent more likely to develop a hemorrhagic stroke
  • Although the study was correlational, there is reason to believe that the bleeding was caused by the antidepressants and not because of other factors
  • SSRIs are also associated with an increased risk of stomach bleeding and birth defects

Manufacturer & Product

GlaxoSmithKline Pfizer Eli Lilly Forest Pharmaceuticals
Paxil (Paroxetine) Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) Prozac (fluoxetine) Lexapro (escitalopram)
Effexor (vanlafaxine) Celexa (citalopram)

Side Effects & Complications

  • Heart Defects
  • Cleft lip/palate
  • Spina bifida
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
  • Craniosynostosis

Bleeding Risks

On Wednesday, the journal Neurology published a study showing that the risk of hemorrhagic strokes, which includes bleeding that occurs in and around the brain. After pooling data from 16 previous studies involving over 500,000 people, researchers concluded that “SSRIexposure is associated with an increased risk of intracerebral and intracranial hemorrhage, yet given the rarity of this event, absolute risks are likely to be very low.” SSRI users were found to be 40 to 50 percent more likely to suffer from this event.

The study is correlational, meaning that it does not indicate whether or not the bleeding was caused by the antidepressants, only that this event seems to occur more often in these patients. Researchers acknowledged the possibility that the results might be due to some outside factor. However, they also said that there is a biological basis for believing that drugs caused the brain bleeds; SSRIs can disturb platelet activity, which may interfere with the blood’s clotting ability. SSRIs have already been linked to stomach bleeds in previous studies.

SSRI Side Effects

SSRIs, such as Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft, are associated with a number of other side effects, including birth defects. Research has linked the antidepressants to oral defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate, as well as cardiac defects. More recently, studies have found that newborns who were exposed to SSRIs during pregnancy may be more likely to develop persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a potentially fatal respiratory disorder.