As a handful of doctors and researchers tried to warn the medical community and the public over a decade ago when these drugs began to soar in popularity, SSRIs can affect the brain and body in a host of detrimental ways. For example, evidence has accumulated that these drugs can induce suicidal and murderous actions in teens and cause young women to drop dead from heart arrhythmias (http://www.naturalnews.com/025811.html). And now there's another danger to add to the list. A huge study of over 136,000 women concludes SSRIs significantly increase the odds of stroke and death in women after menopause.
Far more likely to suffer strokes when on SSRI drugs
The new findings, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded, multi-institution Women's Health Initiative Study, were just published in the December 14 online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Principal investigator Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., division head of epidemiology and professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data from 136,293 women between the ages of 50 and 79 who were not taking antidepressants when they enrolled in the study. They were followed for about six years.
Data from 5,496 women who were taking antidepressants at their first follow-up visit were then compared with data from 130,797 women not taking antidepressants at follow-up. The researchers found no difference in the rate of heart disease (which they assessed by how many women had fatal or non-fatal heart attacks). However, they did find a troublesome difference in the occurrence of another potentially deadly health problem.
Antidepressant users were 45% more likely to experience strokes than women not taking the drugs. What's more, when the scientists looked at the overall death rates of the research participants, they discovered that the women taking antidepressants had a 32% higher risk of death from all causes compared to non-users.
It wasn't only SSRIs that raised the stroke risk -- so did the older class of antidepressants known as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). However, the SSRIs appeared to be even more dangerous than TCAs because they carried a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke. In other words, the postmenopausal women on SSRIs were more likely to have a stroke caused by bleeding into the brain.
Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller and colleagues noted that even small increases in stroke and death rates can have significant implications for large patient populations. And middle-aged women on SSRIs are a huge patient population. The researchers acknowledged in their statement to the media that antidepressants are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S., especially for postmenopausal women. As a matter of fact, Big Pharma has aggressively pushed the use of SSRIs in recent years as a "treatment" for mid-life hot flashes and mood swings as well as late life depression.
Predictably, in a statement to the media, the researchers defended the use of antidepressants as valuable drugs because depression can be "debilitating or even fatal." Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller stated women who may be concerned about taking their antidepressants based on this study should discuss the matter with their doctors.
The researchers also said "it remains unclear" from their data whether antidepressants are solely responsible for the greater mortality rate among users, claiming that depression itself could be related to the increased stroke and death rates. However, if that's so, then it appears the antidepressant drugs aren't working for the women being treated. After all, logic and common sense suggest if depression is linked causally to stroke, then women taking drugs that supposedly alleviate depression would have their stroke risks lowered, not increased.
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