Based on a recent survey, an estimated 27 million Americans use antidepressants. And according to a FDA survey, more than 80% of survey respondents were exposed to pharmaceutical advertising with antidepressants being one of the most heavily advertised class of medications.
Yet, given the heavy use and promotion of antidepressants our knowledge of them is surprisingly poor.
A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, raises concerns that antidepressants may lead to increased stroke risk. The researchers examined stroke risk based on previous reports that antidepressants — particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors — may induce bleeding complications in arteries of the brain.
The study analyzed data from 24,214 patients enrolled in the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan from 1998 to 2007. Researchers compared rates of antidepressant use 7, 14, and 28 days before the onset of stroke.
- Antidepressant use in the 2 weeks before the stroke was associated with a 48% higher stroke risk.
- There was no association between stroke risk and the number of antidepressant prescriptions in the previous year.
- Patients who had more than 6 antidepressant prescriptions had a lower stroke risk and those who had 1 or 2 prescriptions had greater stroke risk.
Authors of the study concluded that the somewhat conflicting results indicated that short-term use of antidepressants increased the risk of stroke, but long-term use had beneficial effects on stroke risk.
Many physicians and researchers, however, agree with me that these contradictory results are confusing and require further studies.
But what is clear, is that
If you or your doctor is considering the use of antidepressants or if you are currently on antidepressants, please be aware of the more serious potential side effects. And make sure to follow up with your doctor about any side effects you may be experiencing, no matter how minor you may think it is.