Antidepressant Drug Use May Increase Patients’ Risk of Rare Stroke

May 24, 2014
by Adler Markoff & Associates

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    Antidepressant Drug Use May Increase Patients’ Risk of Rare Stroke

    According to new research, taking Paxil and other popular antidepressant medications may increase the risk of certain types of stroke for patients. Previous studies have found a link between the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – the most widely used antidepressants – and major bleeding side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding. Research suggests that SSRI antidepressants like Paxil can inhibit the aggregation, or clumping together, of platelets, which could lead to abnormal bleeding in some patients. This new study, published online on October 17 in the journal Neurology, examined the potential connection between SSRI antidepressant drugs and hemorrhagic stroke, a life-threatening event caused by excessive bleeding in the brain. If you have experienced a serious side effect, like stroke, that you believe to be linked to your use of the antidepressant drug Paxil, contact our experienced Paxil attorneys at AMA Law to explore your compensation options.


    The Canadian researchers involved in the Neurology study reviewed 16 studies on antidepressant use and stroke, which included a combined total of more than 500,000 participants. They found that people taking SSRI antidepressants were 51% more likely to suffer an intracranial hemorrhagic stroke, and about 42% more more likely to suffer an intercerebral hemorrhagic stroke, compared to patients not taking SSRIs. In light of these findings, the researchers explained that, since these types of strokes are rare – affecting 24.6 of 100,000 people each year – SSRI antidepressant use would likely only increase the risk by one additional stroke per 10,000 people per year. “Because these types of strokes are very rare, the actual increased risk for the average person is very low,” noted study author Dr. Daniel G. Hackam, of Western University in Ontario.


    Another notable finding in the antidepressant study was that the increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke appears mostly within the first few months of taking an SSRI like Paxil. “Drug studies show that SSRIs result in acute blood thinning within a couple weeks of first exposure,” said Hackam. “Therefore, if an event is likely to occur, it is going to happen within the first few weeks or months of exposure.” Hemorrhagic stroke isn’t the only possible side effect of taking Paxil and other popular SSRI antidepressants though. Previous research has focused on the potential for these medications to cause serious birth defects in babies exposed to the drugs during pregnancy as well. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged this significant risk, classifying Paxil in particular as a pregnancy Category D medication, which means there is positive human evidence indicating that the drug can interrupt fetal development and cause congenital malformations.


    In addition to posing a serious risk of stroke and other side effects and birth defects on their own, using SSRI antidepressants like Paxil with other medications can further increase this risk. In fact, the researchers involved in the Neurology study found that people who were taking blood thinners in combination with an SSRI had an even higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, compared to those taking SSRI antidepressants on their own. “People on anticoagulants like Coumadin are at higher risk of brain hemorrhage anyway,” Hackam noted in the report. “Adding an SSRI would further increase that risk.” It is important that patients are aware of all possible side effects associated with their medications so that they can make an informed decision about which drugs are safe for them to take. If you have suffered a serious complication that you believe to be linked to your use of an SSRI like Paxil, contact our knowledgeable Paxil lawyers at AMA Law to discuss your options for legal recourse.

    Request a free consultation

    (405) 607-8757