Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used to treat depression, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric problems. This kind of antidepressant works through blocking the absorption of serotonin in the brain that results in increased levels in the body. It can be in the form of selective or non-selective inhibitors. Other forms also include seratogenic antidepressants, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake enhancers and serotonin norepinephrine dopamine reuptake inhibitors.
Indicated Disorders for SSRI
- Clinical Depression
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Eating Disorder
- Chronic Pain
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety
- Other Personality Disorders
Legal Cases Involving SSRI’s
There have been many issues surrounding the use of SSRI drugs because of their many side effects. These undesired results from taking the drug mostly involve the body’s interactions with a few receptors. This includes noradrenergic, histaminic, cholinergic and dopaminergic physiological reactions. These side effects usually take place during the initial medication or adaptation phase. This is why SSRI’s are commonly given in lower doses at the beginning of treatment and then slowly increased. This allows the healthcare provider to identify the patient’s body reactions before proceeding with higher doses. Therefore, the potential side effects that the patient may experience are controlled and reduced. There are many notable undesired physiological effects that patients experience from taking SSRI drugs.
SSRI Side Effects
- Vivid Dreams
- Excessive Diarrhea
- Urinary Retention
- Pupil Dilation
- Appetite Change
- Sleep Pattern Alterations
- Drastic Change in Body Weight, Loss or Gain
- Bone Injuries and Fractures
- Sexual Behavior Changes
- Panic Attacks
- Psychotic Attacks
- Orthostatic Hypotension
- Renal Dysfunction
- Restless Legs Disorder
- Cognitive Disorders
- Dissociative Disorders
- Suicidal Ideation
Cardiovascular Side Effects of SSRI Drugs
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are known to cause side effects in the patient’s cardiovascular system. These drugs delay the patient’s QT intervals during ECG tests. They are also reported to cause reactions in the cardiac and vascular system including potassium and sodium channels. There are also recorded cases of patients who have overdosed with flouxetine. They have experienced myocardial infarction, sinus tachycardia, trigeminy and junctional rhythms.
Serotonin syndrome is another side effect that results from the intake of SSRI drugs. It is not common but can lead to serious physiological disorders. This side effect is caused by increased serotonin levels in the brain that are usually triggered by intake of another antidepressant drug. This syndrome includes both minor and major effects on the patient’s body. The minor symptoms do not commonly require attention from a medical provider and may occur more frequently. However, the major or severe symptoms require the patient to immediately stop taking the drug and seek medical attention.
Serotonin Syndrome’s Minor Symptoms
- Muscle Twitching
Serotonin Syndrome’s Major Symptoms
- Increased Body Temperature of 103 Fahrenheit or 39.4 Degree Celsius or Higher
- Seizures and Fits
- Arrhythmia or Irregularities With the Heartbeat
- Loss of Consciousness
Suicidal Ideation or Risk
Patients under 25 years old who are taking SSRI drugs have a notable number of cases that involve suicidal ideation and attempts. These patients are recorded to have experienced depression or other psychiatric disorders. However, the SSRI drug and not their existing mental problem has brought about these suicidal tendencies. A number of lawsuits that were filed against specific drug companies have been won, but this is not always the case.
In November of 2001, a court in Kansas heard a case that involved the suicide of a thirteen year old. His parents filed a legal suit against Pfizer after the boy took the drug Zoloft. The boy’s family attested that the victim had initial symptoms of depression and was prescribed the drug. He then experienced suicidal ideations within the first week of taking it. This case needed sufficient evidence, and the victim’s family decided to work with universities and scientists to conduct clinical trials on the drug. This was done to prove Zoloft’s negative effects on teenagers’ brains through actual intake and brain activity monitoring. However, the tests were negated by Pfizer as the subjects were tested with full knowledge of the case. The lawsuit was dismissed and rejected when appealed in the Supreme Court in 2004 due to insufficiencies in the evidence.
This case resulted in black labels on the drug’s box about the potential psychological effects that patients may encounter. It has also lead to more studies and tests that improved the drugs’ effectiveness while reducing the negative effects on the patient’s mental health. This also resulted in more clinical trials and tests done by GlaxoSmithKline on their SSRI drugs.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Side Effects
Pregnant patients who take SSRI drugs have reported cases of birth defects, miscarriages, newborn behavioral disorder, pulmonary hypertension and long term behavioral disorders in the child. Breastfeeding mothers are also prohibited from taking SSRI drugs according to an FDA statement given in 2006. They are required to consult their physicians and seek other drugs that are safe for the baby. However, a few SSRI drugs like Paroxeline and Sertraline that have been proven to be safe for breastfeeding mothers.
In July of 2012, GlaxoSmithKline was reported to have settled several legal suits that involved birth defects in newborns. Over 800 cases included mothers who took Paxil while pregnant. The company paid $1 billion to the victims and their families with each one having an average of $1.2 million. There are still more than a hundred pending cases that involve neonatal birth defects caused by Paxil.
Additional litigation against the company involve suicides and suicidal ideations caused by the same drug. The company was reported to have settled two cases that involved victims who allegedly attempted suicide while taking Paxil. Their litigation caused the company to pay another $2 billion in settlements. Although the company may have had sufficient evidence to defend their side, they have released a statement that the settlements avoided unnecessary costs from going through with the hearings.
Am I Eligible for an SSRI Lawsuit?
We encourage you to contact our experienced SSRI attorneys for a free consultation to see if you have a case. Our attorneys have extensive experience with these cases and can help determine if you have a case and help you get just compensation. Contact us by calling toll free 1-800-677-3784 or by using the contact form provided.