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Scott Kappes
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Antidepressants Linked to Gastrointestinal Bleeding

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A new study out of Spain has tied a popular class of
antidepressant medications, which includes Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and Prozac,
to yet another dangerous side effect. The class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) that has previously been linked to suicidal ideation, birth defects, and even suicide, has now been linked to an increased
risk of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding.

The study, involving almost 12,000 people, found that
bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract is more common among people taking
SSRIs than those not taking the medication. Researchers did however stress that
the risk was relatively low and said that in patients being correctly medicated the benefits of the
medication will most likely outweigh the increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

“The risk in the general population taking SSRIs is
very low — 1 case in 2,000 patients treated — and no specific action is
required if the antidepressant is correctly indicated by a physician,” Dr.
Francisco de Abajo of the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Healthcare Products,
who helped lead the study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, said by
e-mail.

The study also showed evidence that acid suppressing
medications reduce GI bleeding risks. The authors of the study recommended that
patients with relevant risks factors for GI bleeding consider combating
the risks by taking acid suppression medication.

Conveniently, the study was funded by Astrazeneca, the
makers of the blockbuster acid suppression medications, Nexium and Prilosec.