Older adults who take daily doses of popular antidepressants such as Paxil (Seroxat) are more prone to falls and have double the risk of fractures, says a Canadian study, adding one more side-effect that patients must consider before taking the medication.
Dr. David Healy, an expert in psychopharmacology at the University of Wales College of Medicine, said researchers are finding more and more side-effects associated with SSRIs, which he believes are vastly over-prescribed.
Previous research has shown that the drugs may increase the risk of bleeding in the gut and brain (a cause of stroke), have been linked to possible birth defects when women take the medication during pregnancy and may induce suicidal thoughts in some people, he said.
Furthermore, pre-marketing clinical trials of the medications show that the proportion of subjects who responded to pills containing active drug (50 percent) was only slightly higher than the proportion who reported feeling better after taking dummy pills (40 percent), said Healy. That suggests that for many patients, depression can resolve on its own over time or through discussion with a doctor or therapist, he added.
“But given that actually so few people comparatively are specifically helped by the drug, then it seems to me that people need to be informed about all of the risks so that they can work out whether this is a risk that they’re happy to take,” said Healy.