Further Results Confirm Antidepressants Increase Risk of Violent Crime By 26%

Taking an SSRI antidepressant was associated with a 26% increased risk of violent crime conviction.


Researchers found that taking an SSRI (the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant) was associated with a 26% increased risk of violent crime conviction. This effect could not be explained by pre-existing risk—the researchers compared the same people in periods on and off the drugs and found that their risk of committing a violent crime was higher when they were on the drug than after they stopped taking it.

The study measured only the extremely severe outcome of violent crime convictions, so the risk of increased aggressive behavior, in general, is likely much higher.

The published, peer-reviewed version of this study was previously reported on at Mad in America. However, a report on Medscape on September 21 detailed further results presented at the 33rd European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress. Researcher Tyra Lagerberg led the study at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

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The researchers analyzed their results in several ways.

First, when stratifying by age, the researchers found that all ages experienced a significantly increased risk of violent crime while taking the drugs except the 35- to 44-year-old cohort. The risk was 28% higher when on SSRIs for 15- to 24-year-olds, 35% higher for 25- to 34-year-olds, non-significant for 35- to 44-year-olds, and 25% higher for 45- to 60-year-olds.

Second, the researchers did a different kind of analysis where they pooled all-time on the drugs versus all the time off the drugs (as opposed to the individually controlled analysis). Using this method, the risk of violent crime conviction fell to a 10% increase. However, this type of analysis doesn’t control for individual differences—which the first type does.

Third, the researchers wanted to determine if the risk was increased immediately after starting an antidepressant. They theorized that the SSRI could increase motivation or energy and prompt aggression early in the treatment, but then stabilize. In fact, Lagerberg and co-authors presented this as a possible explanation in their published journal article.

However, according to Medscape, they were wrong—their results showed that the risk of increased violent crime conviction was stable throughout the course of antidepressant treatment. Medscape quotes Lagerberg as saying, “In our cases, we don’t see such an effect for violent crime.”

They also found that the risk increased to 37% just after discontinuing the drug (in the first 28 days after stopping treatment). The risk fell to non-significance once it had been at least 84 days since taking the drug. This finding would be expected with withdrawal effects, rather than a relapse of “mental illness,” since the risk increased immediately after stopping the drug, then stabilized once the person was off the drug for a period of time.

The researchers take care to downplay these results. Medscape quotes Lagerberg as saying that “the risk for violent crime among those taking SSRIs is ‘very, very rare, and doctors should only really talk to people [about it] who’ve had a history of this outcome before.’”

Medscape also includes an interview with Georgia Hodes, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City. Hodes is quoted as saying, “the study makes it clear that the risk for violent crime is small and is likely to only be found in ‘a subset of people who may have some issue with serotonin levels to begin with.’”

Notably, the researchers did not measure serotonin levels, so it is unclear how Hodes came to that conclusion.

The current study is consistent with previous research, which has found that antidepressant use increases violent crime in youth and is associated with more violent means for suicide attempts. Other researchers have also written that antidepressants cause violence and suicide attempts. This could be due to antidepressant-induced akathisia, a state of extreme agitation, and restlessness linked to aggression and suicide.



Read the Medscape report here: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/937766


  1. One way to convince society the people you’re locking up are dangerous is to drug them with drugs that increase violence, irritability, aggression and suicide.

    One way to convince society that the people you drug are too stupid to understand and lack insight is to give them brain damaging, cognitive impairing drugs.

    A this point with so many stereotypes of those labeled with “mental illness” having been found to be caused by the drugs it’s logical to say that “mental illness” is real. It is a chemical imbalance and brain/body disease. One caused by psychiatric drug addictuon.

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  2. This is an interesting article, but all the statistics you quote involve relative risk. In order to adequately judge whether the lead researcher’s claim that the risk for violent crime among those taking SSRIs is very, very rare, we need to know what the absolute risk is. Unfortunately you don’t provide that data.

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  3. Thx, Steve 🙂 But do you know of a more historical source – as I read this blog, it does not mention where/if the term “chemical lobotomy” has been used inside psychiatry? It only uses the term. It would be interesting to know, if insiders in psychiatry used the term earlier – for example before this type of medication was called antipsychotics at all…

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  4. Jonathan, why would psychiatry call a drug what the drug does? Psychiatry is built around language, so obviously the terms are discussed in great detail
    . They have to primarily appeal to the general public who will never ingest this crap. I think the very LAST place they would ever discuss the effects honestly would be with each other.

    ” Heinz Lehmann went as far as to describe the drug as acting like a “chemical lobotomy.”….

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      • Yes Jonathan, and “major tranquilizers” still tells you nothing
        about the mechanism, and ultimate harm.
        There is only harm from these chemicals. Nothing good.
        There is endless information on chemical lobotomies,
        all we have to do is watch someone after being on these drugs.
        I have had to watch someone in our neighbourhood for years,
        it broke my heart. I had to watch his torture while the assholes
        who did this to him sit in their offices.
        I have watched him go from a happy man, to someone that
        repeatedly wore baggy pants, with a belt, pulling them up as he walked because his
        brain could not tell if they were slipping.

        I wish someone saw what I saw. I have not seen him in years and I hope he is free.
        It is amazing what humans will refer to as life.

        We can also ask parents and siblings. We can ask those who were witnesses and informed honest victims. Many of those families do not realize what actually transpired until after the death of their loved one.

        In the past many families didn’t get it. They thought the chemical effect was the illness or just a sad “side effect”. More and more people are beginning to question what is really going on and sites like MIA and countless others are there for us to get insight.

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