Some Antidepressants May Double Risk of Gastrointestinal Bleeding: Study

The findings of a new study suggest that the use of some popular antidepressants, such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, may double the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. 

Chinese researchers found an almost two-fold increased risk of upper GI bleeding among some patients who took antidepressants belonging to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The findings were published in the January issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Researchers looked at 22 studies that involved more than 1 million subjects as part of the meta-analysis, finding that patients who took drugs like Paxil, Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft faced odds of developing upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) that were 55% higher than those who did not take an SSRI. That number increased to nearly double for patients who were also taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like Motrin or Advil, and for patients taking blood thinners like Plavix or Xarelto, the researchers determined.

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“SSRI use was associated with an almost 2-fold increase in the risk of developing UGIB, especially among patients at high risk for GI bleeding,” the researchers determined. “This risk might be reduced significantly by concomitant use of acid-suppressing drugs.”

SSRI Health Concerns

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 also published in 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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