Research on 966 mother-child pairs from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study finds that prenatal SSRI exposure was nearly 3 times as likely in children with autism spectrum disorder. Exposure was more than 3 times as likely among boys with development delay, and nearly five times as likely when the exposure was in the third trimester. Results appeared yesterday in Pediatrics.
Seeking to rectify the fact that “no meta-analysis has included measures of quality of life, global mental health, self-esteem, or autonomy” (or self-reports of depressive symptoms) in studies of depressed youth, a study in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics finds that when these parameters are included “antidepressants offer little to no benefit in improving overall well-being among depressed children and adolescents.” Discuss →
A first-of-its-kind hearing in Texas will determine how future court cases linking SSRIs with congenital malformation will be handled. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft, is arguing that birth defects cannot occur as a direct result of a mother’s Zoloft use during pregnancy. (more…)
Antidepressants may be effective over the short term, but research is showing that treatment resistant depression has risen dramatically in the past 30 years; evidence that the drugs may be inducing chronic depression. Full Article →
From Wednesday’s Brown Daily Herald: “Two weeks ago, Edmund Levin and George Stewart, members of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, sent a letter to the editor of the Academy’s journal, requesting an explanation as to why a controversial study led by former Brown Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Martin Keller has not been retracted.” (more…)
Specialist Ivan Lopez, who is accused of killing three people and wounding 16 others at Ford Hood army base yesterday, had been examined by a psychiatrist within the past month and was in treatment for depression and PTSD. Lopez had been prescribed Ambien and was taking other medications to treat anxiety and depression, according to articles in the New York Times, USA Today, ABC News, CNN, and the Washington Post. Discuss →
From Scientific American: “A commercial sponsored by Pfizer, the drug company that manufactures the antidepressant Zoloft, asserts, “While the cause [of depression] is unknown, depression may be related to an imbalance of natural chemicals between nerve cells in the brain. Prescription Zoloft works to correct this imbalance.” Using advertisements such as this one, pharmaceutical companies have widely promoted the idea that depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain . . . In reality, however, depression cannot be boiled down to an excess or deficit of any particular chemical or even a suite of chemicals. ‘Chemical imbalance is sort of last-century thinking. It’s much more complicated than that.’” (more…)
An important new research paper was published this week on the topic of antidepressant use during pregnancy and preterm birth. The issue is a crucial one as preterm birth (i.e. birth at less than 37 weeks gestational age) is one of the most challenging problems facing the obstetrical community today. Rates of preterm birth have been increasing over the past two decades. Babies born early have increased risks of morbidity and mortality. At the same time, rates of antidepressant use during pregnancy have increased dramatically. Full Article →
A recent paper argues that prescribing antidepressants shortly after the death of a loved one is problematic . . . and a few days later, a Harvard academic publicly suggests prescribing antidepressants FOR bereavement. Wait, what? Full Article →
A detailed meta-analysis of the published research on women taking antidepressants during pregnancy finds that the rate of preterm birth is nearly doubled in the third trimester. In a comprehensive, systematic review the authors found that an overwhelming majority of studies (39 of the 41) showed increased rates of preterm birth in the antidepressant group, including when controlling for underlying depression.
The Sunday Times of London reports on Peter Gotzsche’s efforts to obtain pharmaceutical licensing data before the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) routinely destroys the information 15 years after licensing. Ben Goldacre, co-founder of AllTrials, said: “The MHRA needs to recognise that the world has changed, it is no longer acceptable for decisions about medicines to be based on secret meetings, about secret information that is then shredded.”
What do you do when the media reports stories of children who have killed themselves on SSRIs? Position the stories of these children, not the drugs they were taking, as a suicide risk. Issue dire threats of copycat suicide, publish studies of suicide contagion and warn the families of these children and the media that more children will die if mouthy parents are allowed to speak and upstart journalists are allowed to report. And then position psychiatrists as the only people who can talk about suicide without producing an epidemic of self inflicted deaths. Full Article →
A study in Urology found that men receiving Zoloft for treatment of premature ejaculation had a significant reduction in sperm concentration and significant increase of DNA fragmentation in their sperm, compared with men receiving behavioral therapy for the condition, who exhibited no changes. ”Although in recent years the use of medication in many psychiatric disorders has become quite common and acceptable, the importance of research on the harmful effects of these drugs should not be neglected,” the authors write.
David Kupelian writes “Two-and-a-half years ago, a groundbreaking peer-reviewed study out of California-based Kaiser Permanente documented a significantly increased prevalence of children born with autism spectrum disorders in pregnant mothers taking antidepressants, especially during the first trimester, compared with mothers not taking such medications. And yet, the obvious implication of such a study – that pregnant women should probably avoid taking antidepressants – was all but neutralized by two factors: 1) It was the first human study . . . and 2) most news organizations strongly skewed their coverage toward urging pregnant women to continue “taking their meds” despite the newly reported dangers to their unborn children.”
Forest Labs has been hit with a new lawsuit in Massachusetts, over misleading marketing of its antidepressant drugs Celexa and Lexapro to adolescents, even as it agreed to pay up to $10.4 million to settle accusations of misleading Missouri parents into buying the drugs for children though the drugs were only approved for adults.
Research from MIA blogger Jeffrey Lacasse finds that “at present, there exists no rigorous evidence to support the prescription of Ads (antidepressants) in bereavement. Yet, it is common for ADs to be prescribed off-label for con- ditions that do not have supporting RCT evidence.” Most bereaved parents prescribed psychiatric medications in response to perinatal/neonatal death continued to take them long-term.
Commentary in the American Journal of Psychiatry cautions that the “unbridled enthusiasm” about Ketamine as a “miracle cure” for depression “needs to be tempered by a more rational and guarded perspective,” noting that the drug is already being administered off-label in private psychiatry clinics without regulation by the FDA.
A “systematic review” of all outcome studies of patients with mood disorders, in the March issue of the Australia & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, finds that “the long-term outcome for patients with mood disorders in the predrug era was reasonably positive. Most patients recovered and the majority seemed to remain well after their recovery.” In the modern era, however, “the recurrence of mood episodes appears to have significantly increased.” The authors conclude that “These data . . . provide no comfort for those, including ourselves, who have believed that drugs provide an effective prophylactic treatment for at least a substantial minority of patients with affective disorders.”
A Pennsylvania jury awarded $3 million to the family of a 5-year-old born with cleft palate and lip as a result of the mother taking Topomax during pregnancy. The jury ruled that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, failed to warn of the risk of birth defects associated with the drug. “On behalf of the Anderson family and their child,” said a lawyer for the family, “we are proud to have held Janssen Pharmaceuticals responsible for its decision to sell Topamax without adequately warning families of the serious risks present during pregnancy.”
Dr. Claudia Gold of Boston.com comments on the recent research finding that “thoughts of suicide, sexual difficulties and emotional numbness as a result of anti-depressants may be more widespread than previously thought.”
Animal studies have raised concerns about SSRIs and ADHD stimulants inducing lasting abnormalities in the developing brain. Researchers from the University of Amsterdam are now planning a series of three studies on the effects of Psychotropic drugs on Developing brains (the ePOD study). The present their proposed protocol and rationale in BMC Psychiatry.
There’s an interesting February 11, 2014, article on Peter Breggin’s website: $1.5 Million Award in Child Tardive Dyskinesia Malpractice. Apparently the individual in Dr. Breggin’s paper was diagnosed with autism as a child and was prescribed SSRI’s before the age of seven. The SSRI’s caused some deterioration in the child’s behavior and mental condition, to combat which his first psychiatrist prescribed Risperdal (risperidone). Subsequently a second psychiatrist added Zyprexa (olanzapine) to the cocktail. Both Risperdal and Zyprexa are neuroleptics (euphemistically known in psychiatric circles as antipsychotics), and are known to cause tardive dyskinesia. Full Article →
A report on antidepressant consumption released on 18 February 2014 by the OECD shows huge increases in prescribing of the drugs across most countries. According to the report a key factor driving this increase is the expansion of the off label use of the drugs for a vastly increased number of indications. While this may not seem like news, I think it warrants some analysis because I think what we are seeing is something more complex than simple market expansion. Full Article →