(NaturalNews) There's nothing new about the fact prescription drugs come loaded with possible side effects ranging from the mild to the life-threatening. However, exactly what those side effects are isn't always clear until widely taken medications have been used for years on end. Examples previously reported in NaturalNews include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac raising the risk of sudden death in otherwise healthy women (http://www.naturalnews.com/025811.html) and prescription sleeping pills upping the rate of suicides in the elderly (http://www.naturalnews.com/027375_suicide_su...).
Now comes worrisome research which associates commonly prescribed drugs with behavioral and psychiatric disorders. The new study was presented by scientists from Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) in Washington, D. C., at the 39th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in Chicago in October.
Other researchers, including GUMC neuroscientists, have shown in previous studies that many of these medications actually cause brain cells to die when the drugs are given to immature animal models. Because the regions of the brain where this drug-induced death of neurons takes place are crucial to the regulation of mood, thinking ability and movement, GUMC scientists decided to investigate whether behavior was affected by the drugs.
Working with infant rats in the lab, GUMC scientists tested medications that are frequently prescribed to treat epilepsy, pain and mood disorders in humans -- including children. By using behavioral tests on the animals when the rats reached adulthood, the researchers documented that the drugs did indeed cause behavioral abnormalities later in life.
What's more, the abnormalities the scientists found didn't only occur in the drugs that were previously known to cause the death of brain cells. Other frequently prescribed drugs not known to damage neurons also caused the behavioral problems. "That is of particular concern because some of the drugs may predispose to psychiatric disorders later in life," lead author Patrick Forcelli, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at GUMC, said in a statement to the media. So what drugs, specifically, were tested? Neither the GUMC press office nor the Society for Neuroscience web site has posted that information publicly. However, drugs that are commonly prescribed for epilepsy include carbamazepine, valproate, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, clonazepam, phenobarbital, and primidone. Narcotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most frequently prescribed for pain and SSRIs are often used for mood disorders.
The new research raises several important issues. Not only does it demonstrate that commonly used drugs may contribute to or cause psychiatric problems down the road, but the study also shows how much is yet to be learned about how specific drugs impact the human body. And while medications can help protect the lives and improve the quality of life in people with epilepsy by controlling seizures, efforts need to be stepped up to find the safest possible treatments for these patients.
In the press statement, Dr. Forcelli said his research team did identify some specific drugs that did not seem to cause long-term behavior problems. He stated that additional research is necessary to guide physicians to better select drugs to treat epilepsy, mood disorders or pain in infants and pregnant women.
Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.