UK’s Leading Antidepressant Causes Heart Problems


The European Medicines Agency announced a study last fall that found the UK’s most widely prescribed antidepressant, Citalopram, causes 3x more cardiac abnormalities, including fatal ones, than other antidepressants. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is receiving criticism for not making the recommendation public. The recommendation is for a lower dosage, though there is no research on the safety of the lower dose.

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Antidepressant citalopram heart safety warning


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Escitalopram — Lexapro or Cipralex — at a dose of 30mg is also implicated in cardiac risk.

    Milligram for milligram, escitalopram is several times stronger than citalopram yet, according to the article, the maximum dose in the UK, 20mg, will remain unchanged. Escitalopram 20mg is roughly equivalent to the 60mg citalopram found to raise cardiac risk.

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    • I was suicidal on venlafaxine (effexor) in 2002, aged 50, took an overdose, something I had never done before. I did it without any thought or planning. A very scary thing and most unlike me.

      On being discharged from the hospital after the overdose my psychiatrist upped the venlafaxine dose to maximum, I was still very flat. Then he put me on Lithium, no change. I had to take charge of my own mental health, taper the drugs and recover.

      I’d had 2 previous episodes of serious mental ill health in 1978 and 1984, given chlorpromazine (thorazine) which made me unmotivated and depressed. But I wasn’t suicidal and never thought about suicide.

      I wouldn’t recommend anti-depressants because of the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. It happened to me, fortunately I survived.

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      • “On being discharged from the hospital after the overdose my psychiatrist upped the venlafaxine dose to maximum, I was still very flat”… shouldn’t this, according to your ‘molecules in SSRI drugs magically take a hold of the particle physics that make up human consciousness theory’, have made you a guaranteed suicide death?

        You were unhappy enough to take the leap of faith to believe a shrink’s story your unhappiness was a brain disease right? otherwise you wouldn’t have swallowed the drugs.

        Unhappy try to kill themselves all the time.

        An anecdote isn’t enough to convince me of the magical ‘selective’ powers of some drug to turn you into a suicidal automaton.

        I would have to ask why the drug didn’t turn others into bull-riding, astronaut training program entering, school teacher becoming automatons.

        Apparently drugs only get blamed on the unwanted decisions in humankind.

        Any drug which allegedly only causes the bad behaviors listed in the bible, is decidedly an innocent drug, and the drug is the victim of human wishful thinking.

        It was very ‘unlike me’ to do anything I hadn’t ever done before in my life.

        A true believer test:

        If I gave you 3 million bucks to buy 100 chimpanzees, give them all 44 magnum handguns, and a supply of whatever drug you choose to blame suicide on, how many would turn the gun on themselves?

        Or does it depend on them not being just a biological organism but a civilized animal who knows what a gun trigger does?

        Something to ponder.

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        • Under compulsory treatment we are forced to take the psychiatric drugs which then can take away our confidence and decision making abilities. It can take some time for a person to have the strength to start tapering drugs, withdraw completely and recover.

          In my experience an attempted suicide shocked and scared me, combined with the increased neuroleptics which put me into a numbed state.

          I didn’t think an anecdote would convince you. I didn’t write it with the aim of convincing you. It is my story and therefore I think of value in this dialogue and commentary.

          Not sure how the chimpanzee story relates to the use of anti-depressants. Or that human beings are like civilised animals. Sometimes our behaviour is worse than animals and sometimes it is worthwhile, selfless and inspiring.

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  2. I am only too happy that my son threw the citalopram he was prescribed in the bin. He was suffering from heart arythmias already thanks to the olanzapine. I am afraid I am certain that antidepressants can lead to suicide as well because of the akathisia and sleep patern disruption they can cause-a physical effect of the drug.

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