SSRIs are drugs commonly prescribed anti-depressants used to treat conditions such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Specifically, SSRIs are a class of drugs that work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, has been known to affect mood. Our bodies naturally regulate the levels of serotonin, but SSRI drugs prevent the absorption of serotonin thus increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain.
Approved for use in the 1980s, SSRIs have become the most widely prescribed antidepressants on the market. Unfortunately, research has found serious side effects associated with drugs, such as birth defects, withdrawal complications, and suicidal behaviors and thoughts.
In 2006, a drug safety communication was issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration related to a possible link between the drugs and birth defects. In 2011, the FDA again issued a drug safety communication alert following an increased number of studies suggesting a greater link between the use of SSRIs during pregnancy and rare heart and lung conditions in babies.
Which Drugs are Considered SSRI Drugs?
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Effexor (venlafaxine)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (olanzapine/fluoxetine)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
- Cymbalta (duloxetine)
Women and Depression – Are SSRI’s Worth the Risk?
Women who find themselves at crossroads in their life in terms of career and family often find themselves depressed and looking for help which often leads to the use of antidepressants. In fact, women between the ages of 25 and 44 incur a higher rate of depression than any other group and studies have shown that one in 10 women in America is taking antidepressants. The most widely prescribed antidepressants belong to a class of medication known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Although SSRIs have been known to help when combined with therapy and exercise, women of this age have the added complexity of potentially risking the health of a yet unborn child when using these antidepressants. The awful truth is that many women don’t know of the risks when they are prescribed the medication.
Certainly, women are not lacking in information about the “benefit” side to this analysis. Turn the TV on and you will come surely across a well-produced SSRI commercial showing depressed women who find their way towards happiness when they take this miracle pill. After a complete change in lifestyle of the commercial’s actress, women are then encouraged to “ask your doctor about (fill in the blank) medication to see if it is right for you.”
It is important for women to take a look at the other side of the analysis. Are manufacturers advertising or warning about the risk of women in child-bearing years take when they use SSRI’s? Sadly, the same manufacturers who continue to increase their budgets for consumer-directed advertising of these drugs do not spend nearly the same amount of time or effort warning about the risks. A few seconds of rattling off the potential risks at the end of a well-produced TV commercial seems highly unlikely at actually getting the public’s attention.
It is imperative that women get full disclosure of the risks of fetal birth defects In order to do a proper risk-benefit analysis of whether or not SSRI’s are the answer they have been looking for.
Injuries We’re Pursuing in SSRI Lawsuit
For years now, we have been working with children and families suffering from terribly deforming and debilitating malformations. All of these injuries were avoidable, resulting from the expecting mother innocently taking one of these pills during pregnancy. Warnings should have been given. It angers and saddens us to learn that these medications could cause such terrible side effects.
The science surrounding the injuries that these drugs cause to the unborn child has evolved over the years. TorHoerman Law is pursuing SSRI lawsuit cases for the following injuries:
- Structural heart defects when taken during the first three months of pregnancy,
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) when taken during the last half of pregnancy,
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) is a serious and life-threatening lung condition that occurs soon after the birth of a newborn. Infants born to mothers who took selective serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs) after the 20th week of pregnancy are six times more likely to have PPHN, according to a February 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Newborn babies with PPHN have high pressure in their lung blood vessels and are not able to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream. Babies that have PPHN often need intensive medical care, and the condition can lead to marked developmental delays and can also be fatal.
- About one to two babies per 1000 babies born in the U.S. develop PPHN shortly after birth. However, in the case of a mother’s use of SSRI after the 20th week of pregnancy, this percentage increases six times.
- Anencephaly – a birth defect that affects the brain and skull,
- Craniosynostosis – a birth defect that affects fibrous sutures on the head, and
- Omphalocele – a birth defect that affects the abdominal organs.
If you took an SSRI while pregnant and your child had one of these injuries, please reach out to TorHoerman Law to see if our birth injury lawyers can help you with a birth defect lawsuit.
Injuries Resulting from SSRIs and Zofran
There are many side effects associated with SSRIs, but when the drug is combined with Zofran, an anti-nausea medication, the interaction can cause serotonin syndrome, a potentially severe or life-threatening condition.
If you have any questions regarding a Zofran lawsuit, please reach out to the office of TorHoerman Law.
SSRI Lawsuit: What Can be Done?
Millions of young women have turned to prescription antidepressants such as those listed above. Lacking adequate warnings from drug manufacturers, women have in the past and unfortunately continue to this day, to take the drugs while they are pregnant, without being given adequate warning about the risks involved with taking these drugs during pregnancy.
Paxil has received the most attention regarding injuries relating to its use during pregnancy. However, more and more information is being learned about all of the drugs in this class of medication and the effects they have on the fetus.
Each situation needs to be balanced on a patient by patient basis. In fact, any medication taken by pregnant women, including SSRI medications, should be taken only if needed and with careful consideration of all the risks. Unfortunately, we don’t believe that all of the real risks have been disclosed to physicians and patients, making such a risk-benefit analysis very difficult, if not impossible.
As we have said before, we need to fight back against the efforts at corporate protectionism. We need to hold these companies responsible for the harm they are causing and fight against those seeking methods to shield corporations from responsibility. There is no more perfect example of the type of innocent victim we need to protect than these innocent children that are being born with such terrible injuries.
If you have any questions regarding an SSRI lawsuit, call our office or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.