“A ‘tail suspension test’ is exactly what its title implies. Researchers lift a rat by the tail for a few minutes at a time, just to see what it does . . . Antidepressants have been found to increase the ‘try to escape’ to ‘given up,’ ratio, so a common early test for antidepressants is holding rats by tails, stuffing them with antidepressants, and then holding them by their tails again.”
On Monday April 14th, an important new study from Harrington et al was published in the journal Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.) The study was designed to examine prenatal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other developmental delays (DDs). Nine hundred sixty-six mother child pairs were studied and the researchers found that in boys, the association between maternal SSRI use in the first trimester and autism was very strong (OR 3.22). The association between third-trimester maternal SSRI use and developmental delay was even stronger, with an odds ratio of 4.98. Full Article →
On Monday a new study was published with the finding that there is a three- to four-fold increase in the rates of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Delay in children, especially boys, born to mothers who have been on antidepressants through pregnancy. There are further studies with comparable findings in the offing. Not only this but it looks as though the SSRIs may redefine what it means to be a teratogen. Other teratogens produce their effects in the first trimester of pregnancy when organs are first being formed. But it looks like antidepressants used in the third trimester can lead to autistic spectrum disorder and developmental delay. Full Article →
Doris Iarovici, a psychiatrist from Duke University, asks in the New York Times “Are we using good scientific evidence to make decisions about keeping these young people on antidepressants? Or are we inadvertently teaching future generations to view themselves as too fragile to cope with the adversity that life invariably brings?” (more…)
Concentrations of Prozac as low as 1 microgram per liter (μg/L), a concentration that has been found in many freshwater environments, were found to significantly impact the mating behavior of fathead minnows, specifically nest building and defending. Males were also found to display aggression, isolation, and repetitive behaviors at higher concentrations. Predator avoidance behaviors in males and females were also impacted at 1 μg/L. Feeding was impacted at 10 μg/L and in the highest exposure (100 μg/L), egg production was limited by deaths of females due to significant male aggressive behaviors in the first two weeks of exposure. ”With increased aggression, in the highest level of concentration, female survivorship was only 33% compared to the other exposures that had a survivorship of 77–87.5%. The females that died had visible bruising and tissue damage,” according to c0-author Rebecca Klaper.
The average rate of female prisoners in Canada’s prison system who receive psychiatric medication has jumped from 42% in 2001 to over 60% today, with some regions prescribing psych meds at a rate of up to 75%, according to a joint investigation by the Canadian Press and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Former prisoners and their advocates have been complaining for years about the overmedication of inmates, with Seroquel – a powerful antipsychotic — routinely being prescribed to female prisoners as a sleeping aid. Discuss →
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.