SSRI Antidepressants May Cause Gastrointestinal Bleeding: Study

Short-term use of some popular antidepressant medications may increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, according to the findings of a new study.  

In a report published last month in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers from Taiwan found that using a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for anywhere from a week to a month could significantly raise the chances of a bleeding event. The popular class of medications includes some of the most widely used drugs in the United States, such as Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac and others.

Researchers looked at records from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database involving 5,377 patients who suffered gastrointestinal bleeding from 1998 to 2009. According to their findings, patients who took an SSRI like Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, had a 67% increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

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“Physicians should carefully monitor signs of upper gastrointestinal bleeding even after short-term exposure to SSRIs, as is done with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin,” the researchers recommended.

Concerns over side effects of SSRI antidepressant use and bleeding complications come after a slew of other potential risks associated with the drugs in recent years.

Last year, research in Canada found antidepressants like Zoloft and Celexa increased a patients risk for life-threatening brain bleeds by nearly 50%. Other research published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year linked certain SSRIs, Celexa and Lexapro, to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms, a side effect that 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 birth defects following pregnancy use.

A mounting number of Zoloft birth defect lawsuits have been filed over the past year on behalf of children who were exposed to the medication during pregnancy. The complaints allege that the manufacturer failed to adequately research the side effects of the widely promoted medication or provide sufficient warnings about the risks of becoming pregnant while using the drug.

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