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New Study Casts Doubts on Antidepressant Effectiveness

Most people given antidepressants may still experience many symptoms of depression, according to the findings of a new study that casts doubts on the effectiveness of some popular medications. 

In a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers from the University of Texas found that 75 percent of people on an SSRI antidepressant still fought persistant symptoms that the powerful psychotropic drugs should have alleviated, including sadness, insomnia and a decreased ability to concentrate.

Researchers looked at patients who took Celexa for depression. They then checked to see how many of the 16 symptoms of depression. They found that 75% said they still experienced five or more symptoms of depression.

The most common symptom which went unchecked by Celexa was insomnia, followed by sadness and decreased concentration. The drug appeared most effective at reducing suicidal thoughts.

Celexa belongs to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which also includes the blockbuster antidepressants Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Prozac.

The questions raised about the effectiveness of antidepressants further highlights recent concerns about potential side effects of antidepressants. In recent years, the widely used medications have been linked to an increased risk of suicide and certain birth defects or malformations when taken during pregnancy. The medications have also been heavily promoted and are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States.

Forrest Laboratories has faced a number of Celexa lawsuits over claims that the antidepressant raises the risk of suicide in teens. There are also similar lawsuits against a similar Forrest Laboratories drug called Lexapro.

The suicide lawsuits over Lexapro and Celexa allege that children taking the two drugs were prone to violence and suicide. The plaintiffs claim that Forest knew from studies that there was a higher risk of suicide associated with the drugs when used by children, but failed to warn patients or doctors. The lawsuits charge the company with failure to warn, negligence and fraud.

In November 2010, it was reported that Forest Laboratories was beginning to settle Celexa and Lexapro lawsuits over the failure to warn about the risk of suicide among teens. The settlements came about a month after the company agreed to pay more than $313 million as part of a settlement for illegally marketing of the drugs to children.

SSRI antidepressants have also been linked to an increased risk of birth defects when used during pregnancy. An estimated 800 Paxil birth defect lawsuits have been filed against GlaxoSmithKline over their failure to warn consumers and doctors that use of the antidepressant during pregnancy could lead to congenital heart defects in newborns. The lawsuits also claim that the company hid test results and purposefully misled doctors about the risks associated with Paxil, which is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States.

More recently, momentum has been building for Zoloft lawsuits over Pfizer’s failure to warn about the risk of birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Potential side effects of Zoloft for unborn children have been reported to occur when the drug is taken as early as the first trimester, a time when many women do not even realize they are pregnant.

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