March 16, 2008

FromFAQ: Antidepressant-induced suicide and violence

On March 22, 2004 the FDA issued an extraordinary Public Health Advisory that cautioned about the risks associated with the new generation of  antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Serzone, and Remeron). The warning followed a public hearing at which dozens of family members of victims testified about suicide and violence committed by individuals taking these medications.

While stopping short of concluding the antidepressants definitely caused suicide, the FDA warned that they might do so in a small percentage of children and adults. In the debate over drug-induced suicide, little attention has been given to the FDA’s additional warning that  certain behaviors are “known to be associated with these drugs,” including “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia (severe restlessness), hypomania, mania.”

From agitation and hostility to impulsivity and mania, the FDA’s litany of antidepressant-induced behaviors is identical to those induced by PCP, methamphetamine, and cocaine, drugs known to cause aggression and violence. These older stimulants and most of the newer antidepressants cause similar effects as a result of their influencing brain levels of the same neurotransmitter, serotonin.

A new FDA warning issued on January 31, 2008 declared that yet another group of chemical agents used to treat mood disorders carried the risk of “symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, hostility, mania and hypomania” which “may be precursors to emerging suicidality.”  This time the culprits are antiepileptic drugs – medications used to control seizures. Because they cause sedation, these drugs are commonly used in psychiatry as “mood stabilizers.” As a result of an orchestrated psychiatric campaign to diagnose children with “bipolar disorder,” increasing numbers of children are being given these drugs.

This group of anti-seizure medications includes carbamazapine (brand names Tegretol, Equetro), gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), topiramate (Topamax), and valproate (Depakote). All of these drugs are being prescribed for varying psychiatric purposes, including the treatment of anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.

Articles on the relation between antidepressants and violence

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