The recent spate of celebrity deaths by suicide has everyone’s tongues wagging about what is causing even the rich and famous and successful in Hollywood to be committing suicide. The answer might just be a little but comprehensive study conducted out of Canada.
A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Canada arrived at the conclusion that antidepressants raised even the risk of death among depressed people without a heart disease by 33%, compared to those who did not regularly take these medications.
The scientists came to this conclusion by analyzing data from a total of 17 previous studies involving almost 380,000 people. Those 17 studies showed that people who imbibed antidepressants triggered a greater risk of death by suicide or by other life-threatening issues. However, it was not made clear whether the deaths were caused by the antidepressants themselves or by the symptoms they were made to treat.
A member of the study team, Mr. Benoit Mulsant, a psychiatrist from the University of Toronto, reluctantly admitted that he prescribes antidepressants even though he knows they are more harmful than helpful in the long-term to his patients. “I am worried that in some patients they could be, and psychiatrists in 50 years will wonder why we did not do more to find out,” admitted Mulsant.
Other researchers are quick to point out that perhaps there is no need for people with depression to take antidepressant drugs because psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other treatment approaches have been found to be as effective as drugs when treating depression.
But oppositionists to the study assert the positive effects that antidepressant drugs bring to the mentally ill – one of them being Professor David Baldwin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists psychopharmacology committee chairman. Professor Baldwin was quoted saying that the study had “major flaws”.
Aside from depression, depressed patients carry higher risks of a slew of physical health problems that increase their mortality. Other than depression, antidepressants also enhance the risk of triggering insomnia and chronic pain.
On the other hand, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Psychiatrists said that numerous studies over the years have also produced the same results – that antidepressants are a “lifesaver” for many patients and that it reduces the risk of suicide among depressed patients. It is already a matter between the patient and his psychiatrist to decide whether an antidepressant is needed in this case.
The Antidepressants that Kill Rather Than Relieve Depression
Among the more prominent cases of suicide because of a depressant drug is that of a 57-year-old lawyer named Steward Dolin of Brentford. Dolin’s widow took GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of the antidepressant drug Paxil, to court over the apparent suicide of Mr. Dolin who jumped off a train platform and onto the tracks of an oncoming train.
Dolin’s wife took GlaxoSmithKline to court because she believed that her husband suffered from the side effects of the antidepressant drug Paxil which was akathisia, a state of acute physical and mental agitation. She won US$3 million in damages from GlaxoSmithKline in April 2017.
The inquiry of Dolin’s wife on Paxil’s side effects opened a can of worms when their lawyer found other dubious information pointing supposedly to the success of early clinical trials of Paxil against those who inflict self-harm on themselves. Because of the controversy of the early clinical trials of the drug, GlaxoSmithKline changed the packaging in 2006 to include a label stating “the frequency of suicidal behavior was higher in patients treated with paroxetine [generic name of Paxil] compared with placebo” – actually 6.7 times higher.
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine cited the case of a 45-year-old man who developed akathisia just days after he was put on an antidepressant, but was later discovered to have been misdiagnosed for his panic attacks. When doctors doubled his dose, he attempted suicide.
A lethal combination of anxiety and akathisia can trigger runaway depression and increase your patient’s risk of suicide. Such results from previous studies are enough to ban antidepressants from the market forever.
So what do you think of antidepressants being more dangerous to our health than the symptoms or ailments they are supposed to cure? Share your opinions in the comments section below.