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Study Links Antidepressants and Seizures at Normal Doses

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New research suggests that side effects of some antidepressants may cause seizures for certain patients, even when the the medications are used at normal doses. 

Concerns have existed for years about a potential link between antidepressants and seizures, especially in cases of overdoses. However, a study presented earlier this month at the European Psychiatric Association’s 23rd Congress indicates that newer antidepressants may be linked to first-time seizures when used as prescribed.

Researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland looked at data from 7 million patients in the U.K. between 1998 and 2012. While the study has yet to be published for peer review, researchers indicate that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and others, and SNRIs, like Effexor and Cymbalta, are among the antidepressants most likely to cause seizures.

Older antidepressants, known as tricyclics, appeared to have no increased seizure risk, the researchers determined.

According to the findings, a number of factors play into the seizure risk with antidepressants, including dosage, gender, and what time of day they took the drugs.

SSRIs are a common class of antidepressant drug, used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. They are among the most widely used drugs in the United States.

In 2013, researchers warned that SSRI use may increase the risk of surgical complications in a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

In 2012, researchers from Canada found antidepressants like Zoloft and Celexa increased a patients risk for life-threatening brain bleeds by nearly 50%.

Last year, research published in the British Medical Journal linked certain SSRIs, such as Celexa and Lexapro, to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms, a side effect which the FDA warned the public about in 2011.

Other side effects of the SSRI drug class span beyond blood and heart problems and include increased risk of death for ICU patients and higher risk of giving birth to an autistic child.

Concerns have also been raised about use of antidepressants during pregnancy, which has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects and malformations.

Pfizer faces hundreds of Zoloft birth defect lawsuits being pursued by parents of children born with various heart defects and other severe health problems, which raise similar allegations that the drug maker withheld important safety information from women using the medication and the medical community.

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