Nav: Home

Antidepressant medications appear to be generally safe

October 02, 2019

Antidepressants are generally safe, according to a new study by an international team of researchers. By assessing evidence from 45 meta-analyses, which combined the results from many studies, the researchers did not find strong evidence of adverse health outcomes associated with antidepressant use. The findings have been published in JAMA Psychiatry.

There has been a sharp growth of antidepressant use worldwide. These drugs rank third among prescribed medications and fourth among sold medications. It is estimated that up to 10 per cent of American adults take at least one antidepressant. However, the safety profile of antidepressants has remained somewhat controversial. Meta-analyses combine the results from many studies, and some have found strong associations between antidepressants and some adverse health outcomes, while others have not.

"As far as we know, this is the first study to assess the safety and adverse health outcomes associated with antidepressant use on such a large scale considering real-world data. However, it is important to note that our study did not evaluate the efficacy of the drugs", says the study's lead author, Dr Elena Dragioti, adjunct senior lecturer in the Department of Medicine and Health Sciences at Linköping University, Sweden.

Researchers systematically assessed the evidence from 45 reviewed meta-analyses that included more than 1,000 observational studies. These are studies that observe whether there are differences between individuals who are exposed to a treatment and those who are not, without any intervention from a researcher. The studies included covered different age groups, underlying psychiatric conditions, and possible adverse health outcomes.

"We found that all of the adverse health outcomes reported in observational studies that were supported by strong evidence were actually probably due to the underlying psychiatric conditions for which antidepressants had been prescribed, rather than the antidepressants themselves. Most of these studies also suffered from several biases, such as a lack of randomisation," says Dr Marco Solmi, psychiatrist from the University of Padova, Neurosciences Department, and visiting researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London, Psychosis Department, EPIC lab, who co-led the study.

"Even though we have shown that antidepressants are generally safe, we should note that adverse effects must be monitored clinically during antidepressant treatment. Further, we have only limited evidence from randomised clinical trials about long-term adverse health outcomes. Moreover, we were not able to assess several newer antidepressants due to limited available data", says senior author Dr. Evangelos Evangelou, epidemiologist from the University of Ioannina, Greece and Imperial College, London, UK.
-end-
The study was funded with support from, among others, the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust at King's College, London. All conflict-of-interest disclosures can be found in the scientific article.

The article: "Association of Antidepressant Use With Adverse Health Outcomes - A Systematic Umbrella Review", Elena Dragioti, Marco Solmi, Angela Favaro, Paolo Fusar-Poli, Paola Dazzan, Trevor Thompson, Brendon Stubbs, Joseph Firth, Michele Fornaro, Dimitrios Tsartsalis, Andre F Carvalho, Eduard Vieta, Philip McGuire, Allan H Young, Jae Il Shin, Christoph U Correll, Evangelos Evangelou, (2019), JAMA Psychiatry, published online October 2 2019, doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2859

Linköping University

Related Antidepressants Articles:

Antibodies: the body's own antidepressants
Antibodies can be a blessing or a curse to the brain -- it all depends on their concentration.
Are some antidepressants less risky for pregnant women?
About one in ten women in Québec will suffer from depression during pregnancy.
The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.
Significantly fewer pregnant women take antidepressants
A pregnancy is not always a happy event and as many as 10-15% of pregnant women in Denmark have depressive symptoms.
Antidepressants reduce deaths by more than a third in patients with diabetes
Antidepressants reduce deaths by more than a third in patients with diabetes and depression, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Antidepressants can reduce the empathic empathy
Depression is a disorder that often comes along with strong impairments of social functioning.
Possible link between autism and antidepressants use during pregnancy
An international team led by Duke-NUS Medical School has found a potential link between autistic-like behaviour in adult mice and exposure to a common antidepressant in the womb.
When neurons are out of shape, antidepressants may not work
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed medication for major depressive disorder (MDD), yet scientists still do not understand why the treatment does not work in nearly thirty percent of patients with MDD.
Next-generation metabolomics may facilitate the discovery of new antidepressants
Antidepressants have become one of the most commonly prescribed drugs.
Male birds sing less to females on antidepressants
Female starlings who have ingested dilute concentrations of antidepressants while feeding on worms, maggots and flies at sewage treatment plants appear to be less attractive to the opposite sex.
More Antidepressants News and Antidepressants Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.