Overview: For years, researchers have investigated the link between SSRIs and birth defects, indicating it as one of the medications’ major complications. Now, the antidepressants may be associated with an additional side effect: bleeding. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), patients taking newer SSRIs may be at an increased risk of stroke and bleeding. Even though SSRIs have been on the market since the 70’s, the results of this study suggest that we still do not fully understand the risks.
- A study indicates that newer antidepressants may elevate the risk of bleeding and stroke
- The SSRIs showed that the risk was mostly associated with “high-affinity” SSRIs
- Research has also extensively studied the link between SSRI use and birth defects
Product: SSRIs such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (Paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride), Lexapro, Effexor, Celexa
Past Research has linked SSRIs to Birth Defects such as:
- Congenital heart lesions
- Down’s syndrome
- Cleft lip/palate
- Spina bifida
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
Could Antidepressants Contribute to GI bleeds and Stroke?
The study, led by Dr. Patience Gallagher, analyzed data from 36,000 patients diagnosed with major depression; only patients being treated with SSRIs alone were included, eliminating those who take alternative antidepressants such as MAOIs or tricyclics. SSRIs were classified as either “high”, “moderate” or “low” affinity for the serotonin transporter. Gallagher’s team looked at the frequency of bleeding complications in these patients for more than 19 years. Out of the 21,462 patients categorized as high-affinity, researchers found 601 cases of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. This compares to 333 out of 14,927 lower affinity patients, resulting in a risk ratio of 1.17. Stroke rates fell along the same lines; 776 cases of stroke were documented in the high-affinity group versus 434 stroke cases in the lower affinity group, leading to a risk ratio of 1.18.
Overall, it appears that more recent SSRIs may be contributing to bleeding complications. “Our results add to a growing body of evidence that some newer antidepressants may be associated with elevated risks of gastrointestinal bleeding and stroke.” Gallagher told Pulse.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are a class of antidepressants that elevate the levels of serotonin, which can greatly influence mood. Normally, when there is too much of certain neurotransmitter (chemical messenger), the body will naturally reuptake, or reabsorb it to restore regular levels; in patients taking SSRIs, this process is interrupted.
In addition to birth defects, SSRIs have been associated with other serious side effects such as sexual dysfunction and suicidal tendencies in adolescents.