Antidepressants such as Zoloft and Paxil have been a popular treatment for many patients with various psychological, hormonal, and emotional issues that may not have been construed as depressed a couple of decades ago. As psychologists and scientists alike become more aware of how the human brain and body works, it’s not surprising.
For some who live daily with these issues that they may not understand, drugs that treat depression such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) like Paxil and Zoloft are a revelation. However, side effects strike every patient differently and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that Zoloft and Paxil have a side effect that is common to younger people called “suicidality.”
What is Suicidality?
Depression has many signs such as feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, reduced sex drive, sleep issues, changes in appetite, agitation, slowed thinking, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and crying spells for no apparent reason. However, if these traits aren’t enough, depressed people start being a worry to professionals in the psychological community when the patient begins to have frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide.
That’s exactly what the FDA defines as Suicidality, “an increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior.” Yet, for SSRIs, this has become a normal side effect, which has horrible repercussions for the patient. So much so that the FDA took measures to help protect the most vulnerable antidepressant patients.
What Has The FDA Done?
In 2005, the FDA opened a study of 295 individual antidepressant trials that included over 77,000 adult patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders, to examine the risk of suicidality in adults who are prescribed antidepressants.
As a result the FDA took measures of protecting adults 18 years of age to 24-years-old by making label changes in 2007. The label stated that there is an increased risk of suicidality in this high risk group. However, these changes include language stating that scientific data did not show this increased risk in adults older than 24, and that adults ages 65 and older taking antidepressants have a decreased risk of suicidality.
“Depression and other psychiatric disorders can have significant consequences if not appropriately treated. Antidepressant medications benefit many patients, but it is important that doctors and patients are aware of the risks,” said Steven Galson, M.D., MPH, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
The FDA asked manufacturers to add a black box warning to the labeling of all antidepressants to describe this risk and to emphasize the need for appropriate monitoring and close observation, particularly for younger patients taking these medications.
In addition, FDA directed manufacturers to develop Medication Guides, FDA-approved user-friendly information for patients, families and caregivers, that could help improve monitoring. Medication Guides are intended to be distributed at the pharmacy with each prescription or refill of a medication.
The problem is that the issue of suicidality has been seemingly left on the back burner since 2007, however, a black box warning does not allow the FDA to wipe their hands and walk away. Suicidality research keeps on going, particularly from disturbing reports of patients taking attempts on their lives that could put others in serious danger. Not only that, the traits of suicidality have been showing up in a much older group than the FDAs finding may have indicated.
Suicidality and Cardio Vascular Disease
There have also been some other findings that suggest suicide attempts in young adults substantially increases their risk of dying from heart disease or cardiovascular disease (CVD). The study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry this month further found that the risks are particularly marked for women.
The researchers conducted a population based study of over 7,600 people aged 17-39 found and, after adjusting for health and lifestyle factors such as smoking or poor diet, found the risk of fatal CVD was more than double for people with depression than those without.
They also found that more than triple for those with past suicide attempts. Death from ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was nearly four times greater for those with depression, and more than seven times greater for people who had attempted suicide.
Women had triple the risk of fatal IHD, and a fourteen-fold greater risk for CVD. The figures for men were lower, with a 2.4 times greater risk for IHD and 3.5 times greater risk for CVD.
The authors noted that their study was the first population-based study to examine clinical diagnosis of depression and mortality due to CVD and IHD in young adults. Previous studies had shown a link, but because they included middle-aged and elderly people, they noted that the dramatic impact of depression and suicidality on IHD mortality in younger individuals has gone unrecognized.”
“Our data suggest that more research should take a life-course approach to identify risk factors for IHD early in life,” they concluded.
Defective Drug Attorneys
Losing a friend or family member to depression can be a dismaying and frustrating experience as they lock themselves away from society and their relationships with ever growing risk of suicide. Watching that decline can be painful and inspire both loved ones and medical professionals to seek medication that may help the person through the trying time in their lives. But as you can see, some of these medications can make things worse and may lower the patient’s life expectancy.
If your family has been stricken by the tragic consequences of suicidality it is important that you find experienced legal council that can help you seek justice through compensation.
Phillips Law Firm is a team of experienced defective drug attorneys with a proven track record of successful defective drug litigation. If you or a loved one have experienced a cardio-event while taking Celerite, call them today for a free consultation and to find out your legal rights.