Yes you read that correctly. A new study from McMaster University found an increased death rate in all users of prescription anti-depressants. This is particularly alarming because these drugs are everywhere, with an almost unbelievable estimated rate of 1 in 8 adults in America now taking them. They also found that the increased death rate, a staggering 33% in patients without cardiovascular disease, was less pronounced in patients with cardiovascular disease, possibly because these drugs have a blood thinning effect. They conclude “The results support the hypothesis that ADs (Anti-Depressants) are harmful in the general population but less harmful in cardiovascular patients.” A recent Newsmax report also states “critics suggest that many people taking anti-depressants may not actually need them, with scientific studies showing psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other treatment approaches are as effective as drugs, or more so. But doctors routinely prescribe the pills because of long waiting lists for therapy.”
Many of my patients have told me that they were prescribed these drugs and told that they are very safe and non-addictive, neither of which appears to be true. Once on these medications they can be extremely difficult to stop – as many of my orthopaedic patients have told me. And in addition to their direct adverse effects, they have further risks because of interactions with other drugs. Often they are also prescribed to relieve pain in “fibromyalgia.” Since these drugs are clearly not pain killers this is a difficult rationale to understand.
I wrote in a previous post that anti-depressants have also been associated with an increased risk of suicide in patients under 25 years of age and carry an FDA warning in this regard.
The conclusion. Anti-depressants are dangerous drugs. Have a frank discussion with your physician. Unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks they are best not started in my opinion, as you will likely have a hard time stopping.