Are Your Antidepressants Doing More Harm Than Good?
Women who use SSRI antidepressants, such as Zoloft or Paxil, during pregnancy need to be aware of the potential for serious health complications that can affect not only them but their unborn child as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 1 in 10 Americans suffers from depression. Statistically, women are more likely than men to report experiencing symptoms of depression, including loss of appetite, sleeplessness, sleeping too much, lack of energy and difficulty concentrating. While treatment for depression varies from patient to patient, the use of prescription antidepressants is fairly widespread. According to a 2011 study, antidepressant use has more than doubled in the past 15 years.
Among pregnant women, antidepressant use is also a growing trend. According to the CDC, a study of pregnant women conducted from 1998 to 2005 found that approximately 4.5% of the women used an antidepressant either prior to the pregnancy, during the pregnancy or both. An estimated 3.8% of those women specifically took an SSRI antidepressant, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
While SSRI antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and Prozac have been shown to alleviate the symptoms of depression in certain patients, the drugs have also been linked to serious side effects, particularly among women who take an SSRI while pregnant. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an updated safety communication advising patients and health care providers that using Paxil, Zoloft and other SSRIs while pregnant may contribute to an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN can cause difficulty breathing, organ damage, brain damage and even death.
In 2011, the FDA updated their warning, saying that mixed results from various research studies made it difficult to draw any definitive conclusions about the link between SSRIs and newborn pulmonary hypertension. However, additional research studies have also linked these drugs to a number of other complications, including serious heart defects, neural tube defects, club foot, lip and palate defects, cranial defects and bowel deformities. A Canadian study published last month also suggested that women who used SSRIs during pregnancy are also more likely themselves to develop high blood pressure. The study also indicated that babies who are exposed to SSRIs in utero may experienced delayed growth, which can potentially lead to developmental problems later on.
The FDA has advised women who are considering stopping or starting a course of treatment for depression involving SSRIs to speak with their doctor first before doing so, particularly if they are pregnant or may become pregnant. If you or a loved one gave birth to a child who was born with PPHN or other serious birth defects after taking an SSRI antidepressant, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. It’s important that you contact an experienced SSRI birth defects attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.
Nadrich & Cohen, LLP is currently investigating birth defects cases involving Paxil, Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants. For more information on filing an SSRI birth defects lawsuit, call 1-800-718-4658 to begin your free initial case evaluation. There is never a fee unless damages are recovered on your behalf.