New research indicates that patients who take antidepressants drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) after suffering a stroke may face a greater risk of experiencing a recurrent brain bleed. In fact, the researchers involved in this new study warn that the potential risk of recurrent intracerebral hemorrhage may outweigh the possible benefit of improvement in depressive symptoms in some patients. If you or someone you love has suffered a brain bleed or another serious complication you believe to be related to an SSRI antidepressant drug like Zoloft, Prozac or Paxil, contact us as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a SSRI antidepressant injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the medication.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the most widely prescribed antidepressant drugs on the market, indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder and other related conditions. SSRI drugs like citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft) work by blocking the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin, a neurotransmitter believed to help regulate mood and social behavior. In doing so, the medications can help increase serotonin levels in the brain and improve mood in individuals struggling with depression. Unfortunately, extensive research has shown that SSRI antidepressants carry a potential risk of serious side effects, possibly including an increased risk of birth defects in babies exposed to the medications during pregnancy. In this latest study, researchers found that SSRI antidepressants may also increase the risk of brain bleeds among patients who take the drugs after suffering a stroke.
This new SSRI antidepressant study was published in the journal JAMA Neurology on August 31, by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who sought to analyze the risk of recurrent cerebral bleeding compared to the decrease in the severity of depressive symptoms among intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) survivors with depression treated with SSRIs. The longitudinal cohort study was conducted at a tertiary care center between January 2006 and December 2017, and the study participants included 1,279 adults who presented with primary ICH and were discharged from initial hospitalization for stroke. The researchers followed up with the study participants for about 53 months in order to determine whether treatment with SSRIs was associated with ICH recurrence and improvement in depressive symptoms.
“Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely used to treat poststroke depression but are associated with increased incidence of first-ever intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in the general population,” the researchers wrote. “The decision to treat ICH survivors with SSRIs must therefore balance potential risks of ICH recurrence with presumed benefits on depressive symptoms.” Based on their research, the study authors concluded that SSRI use among the study participants was associated with remission of post-ICH depression, but they also found that it was tied to a higher risk of ICH recurrence, particularly among patients with preexisting risk factors for hemorrhagic stroke.
As the researchers noted, depression is common among stroke survivors, and healthcare providers often prescribe antidepressants to relieve depressive symptoms in these patients. However, this new research suggests that SSRI antidepressants may not be the safest course of treatment following an intracerebral hemorrhage. In fact, SSRIs may actually put ICH patients at risk for a recurrent brain bleed. “Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor exposure after ICH is associated with both improvement in depressive symptoms and increased risk of recurrent hemorrhagic stroke,” the researchers concluded. “Clinical history, neuroimaging data, and genetic biomarkers may help to identify survivors of ICH more likely to safely tolerate SSRI use.”
This new study indicates that the possible benefits of SSRI antidepressants in treating depression among stroke survivors may be outweighed by the potential risk of recurrent brain bleeds, and that healthcare providers should be especially cautious about prescribing SSRIs to patients who have a history of ICH. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain bleed or another serious medical condition and you believe SSRI use to be the cause, don’t hesitate to consult an attorney with experience handling SSRI injury claims. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible to file a claim against the company responsible for manufacturing the drug that allegedly caused your injuries.