SSRI antidepressant medications are linked to a greater risk of mania and bipolar disorder, a new study finds.
SSRIs include the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications, marketed under names like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.
The study also found that an antidepressant called venlafaxine was also linked to the increased risk.
However, the researchers say patients should not stop their treatment suddenly.
The study is based on the medical records of 21,000 adults treated for major depression over seven years in London.
The results showed that treatment with SSRIs and venlafaxine increased the risk of developing bipolar disorder and/or mania by about one-third.
However, the real risk of developing these conditions is already low, so the increase does not make as much difference as it might sound.
The study’s authors write:
“…regardless of underlying diagnosis or aetiology the association of antidepressant therapy with mania demonstrated in the present and previous studies highlights the importance of considering whether an individual who presents with depression could be at high risk of future episodes of mania.
Our findings also highlight an ongoing need to develop better ways to predict future risk of mania in people with no prior history of bipolar disorder who present with an episode of depression.”
The study was published in the journal BMJ Open (Patel et al., 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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