Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) are utilized in the treatment of depression in pregrant and lactating women. SSRI’s may be passed to the fetus through the placenta and the neonate through breastfeeding, potentially exposing them to SSRIs during peri and postnatal development. However, the long-term effects of this SSRI exposure are still largely unknown. The simplicity and genetic amenability of model organisms is a significant advantage to work with humans. This review will assess the current research done in animals that sheds light on the role of serotonin during development and the possible effects of SSRIs. Experimental studies in rodents show that administration of SSRIs during a key developmental window creates changes in brain circuitry and maladaptive behaviors that persist into adulthood. Similar changes result from the inhibition of serotonin transporter or monoamine oxidase, implicating these two regulators of serotonin signaling in developmental changes. Understanding the role of serotonin in brain development is critical to identifying the possible effects of SSRI exposure.
serotonin; neurotransmitter; CNS development
Sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), is the most commonly prescribed therapy for maternal depression. Epidemiologic studies have linked SSRI exposure with decreased fetal growth, altered autonomic regulation, and cardiac malformations. We hypothesized SSRI exposure decreases left ventricular volumes and increases adult sympathetic nervous system activation, resulting in increased adult heart rates.
C57BL/6 mice received saline or sertraline (5 or 15 mg/kg/day i.p.) on postnatal days 1–14. Adult phenotypes were assessed at 5 months.
Sertraline-exposed mice had smaller left ventricular internal diameters in diastole (control 4.0 ± 0.1 mm, SSRI 3.7 ± 0.1 mm, p < 0.05), decreased stroke volumes (control 46 ± 2.6 μL, SSRI 37 ± 2.3 μL, p < 0.05), higher heart rates (control 530 ± 13 beats per minute (bpm), SSRI 567 ± 6 bpm, p <0.05) and increased urinary excretion of noradrenaline (control 174 ± 29.4 ng/mL, SSRI 276 ± 35.1 ng/mL, p<0.05). These changes were associated with increased cerebral serotonin transporter (5-HTT) expression.
Neonatal sertraline exposure causes long term changes in cardiac morphology and physiology. We speculate that early life SSRI exposure impairs cardiomyocyte growth and central serotonin signaling, leading to a small left heart syndrome in adult mice.
Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) during pregnancy is common while the effect on the infant’s neurological outcome is unknown. Our objective was to determine the effects of prenatal SSRI-exposure on the infants’ neurological functioning, adjusted for maternal mental health.
A prospective observational study from May 2007 to April 2010. The study groups comprised 63 SSRI-exposed infants (SSRI group) and 44 non-exposed infants (non-SSRI group). Maternal depression and anxiety were measured using questionnaires. The main outcome measures during the first week after birth and at three to four months were the quality of the infants’ general movements (GMs) according to Prechtl and a detailed motor optimality score. We calculated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for abnormal GM quality in the SSRI and non-SSRI groups, and adjusted for maternal depression, anxiety, and other confounders. The study was registered under 53506435 in the ISRCTN.
All infants were born around term. During the first week, abnormal GMs occurred more frequently in the SSRI group than in the non-SSRI group (59% versus 33%) and the median MOS was lower (13 versus 18). The OR for abnormal GMs in the SSRI versus the non-SSRI group was 3·0 (95% CI, 1.3 to 6.9) and increased after adjustment for confounders. At three to four months, more SSRI-exposed infants had monotonous movements (48% versus 20%) with lower median MOSs (26 versus 28). The OR for monotonous movements was 3·5 (95% CI, 1.5 to 8.6) and increased after adjusting for confounders.
Prenatal exposure to SSRI had an adverse effect on early neurological functioning as reflected by GM quality, irrespective of maternal depression and anxiety, and other confounders. Physicians should take this into account in consultation with parents.
The increase in serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission is considered to be one of the most efficacious medical approach to depression and its related disorders. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) represent the most widely antidepressive drugs utilized in the medical treatment of depressed patients. Currently available SSRIs include fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, fluvoxamine, citalopram and escitalopram. The primary SSRIs pharmacological action’s mechanism consists in the presynaptic inhibition on the serotonin reuptake, with an increased availability of this amine into the synaptic cleft. Serotonin produces its effects as a consequence of interactions with appropriate receptors. Seven distinct families of 5-HT receptors have been identified (5-HT1 to 5-HT7), and subpopulations have been described for several of these. The interaction between serotonin and post-synaptic receptors mediates a wide range of functions. The SSRIs have a very favorable safety profile, although clinical signs of several unexpected pathologic events are often misdiagnosed, in particular, those regarding the eye. In all cases reported in the literature the angle-closure glaucoma represents the most important SSRIs-related ocular adverse event. Thus, it is not quite hazardous to hypothesize that also the other reported and unspecified visual disturbances could be attributed - at least in some cases - to IOP modifications. The knowledge of SSRIs individual tolerability, angle-closure predisposition and critical IOP could be important goals able to avoid further and more dangerous ocular side effects.
Fluoxetine; sertraline; paroxetine; fluvoxamine; citalopram; escitalopram; intraocular pressure; side effects.
Depression during pregnancy occurs frequently and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the drug of choice when treating pregnant women. Most published studies found no increased risks of congenital malformations in association with SSRIs, but there are reports of various malformations for SSRIs as a group and for specific SSRIs. To assess potential adverse effects of SSRIs as one group may be questioned because of their dissimilarities and very large datasets are needed when studying specific SSRIs. The national health and population registers in the Nordic countries offer excellent opportunities to assess long term effects of exposure during fetal life. As each of the Nordic countries is small, collaborative studies including information from all the Nordic countries are warranted to fully understand risks associated with exposure to antidepressants in fetal life.
antidepressive agents; adverse effect; pregnancy; multicenter study
The aim of this study was to estimate the incidence of treatment-emergent mania/hypomania (TEMH) and to describe the clinical characteristics of patients with major depression experiencing this event during treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and/or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).
Following an algorithm-based protocol, 344 patients with major depression confirmed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV disorders were treated with an SSRI, interpersonal psychotherapy, or their combination for nine months. The emergence of mania/hypomania was carefully monitored throughout the study using the Young Mania Rating Scale and clinical assessment.
Overall, eight patients experienced TEMH. The incidence of this event was 3.0% in patients treated with an SSRI and 0.9% in patients treated with IPT alone. Among patients treated with an SSRI, the difference between sites was higher than expected by chance alone (6.8% at Pisa and 0% at Pittsburgh, p = 0.002). Despite the adoption of an identical protocol at the two sites, some demographic and clinical characteristics of participants may account for this unexpected result. Alternatively, the greater number of episodes and earlier age of onset at the Pittsburgh site suggests that the unipolar course of illness was more clearly established prior to study entry.
TEMH is an infrequent event, occurring in 2.3% of patients treated for major depression. Nevertheless, its consequences are clinically relevant and require prompt and appropriate therapeutic interventions. For this reason, recognising those patients at risk for such an event is of paramount clinical significance. The observed difference in the incidence of TEMH between the two sites requires further investigation.
bipolar; hypomania; mania; treatment; unipolar
To investigate whether treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) could be withdrawn for elderly residents who had been on treatment for at least one year and to evaluate a method for systematic drug review.
Open, prospective, interventional study.
Four counties in Sweden.
Elderly residents at 19 nursing homes, with ongoing treatment with SSRIs for more than one year.
Main outcome measures
Clinical evaluation, registration of drugs used and rating with Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). A semi-structured telephone interview with 15 participating physicians and 19 nurses.
About one-third of all 822 residents in the nursing homes had ongoing antidepressant treatment, predominantly with SSRIs; 75% of them had been treated with SSRIs for at least one year and 119 (60%) of these were considered eligible for the study. The intervention was judged successful in 52% of these residents of whom 88% had a MADRS rating of less than 20 points. The GPs and the nurses experienced the method as practicable.
Withdrawal of SSRI treatment was successful in the majority of cases. The MADRS may be a valuable addition to clinical evaluation when deciding whether to end or continue SSRI treatment.
Family practice; nursing homes; SSRI drugs; systematic drug review; withdrawal
Sertraline and fluoxetine are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) widely-prescribed to treat depression. They exert their effects by inhibiting the presynaptic plasma membrane serotonin transporter (SERT). All SSRIs possess at specific positions halogen atoms, which are key determinants for the drugs’ specificity for SERT. For the SERT protein, however, the structural basis of its specificity for SSRIs is poorly understood. Here we report the crystal structures of LeuT, a bacterial SERT homolog, in complex with sertraline, R-fluoxetine or S-fluoxetine. The SSRI halogens all bind to exactly the same pocket within LeuT. Mutation at this halogen-binding pocket (HBP) in SERT dramatically reduces the transporter's affinity for SSRIs but not for tricyclic antidepressants. Conversely, when the only non-conserved HBP residue in both norepinephrine and dopamine transporters is mutated into that found in SERT, their affinities for all the three SSRIs increase uniformly. Thus, the specificity of SERT for SSRIs is dependent largely on interaction of the drug halogens with the protein's halogen-binding pocket.
The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine (FLU, Prozac®) is commonly prescribed for depression in pregnant women. This results in SSRI exposure of the developing fetus. However, there are knowledge gaps regarding the impact of SSRI exposure during development. Given the role of serotonin in brain development and its cross-talk with sex hormone function, we investigated effects of developmental exposure to pharmacologically relevant concentrations of FLU (3 and 30 nM (measured)) on brain neurotransmitter levels, gonadal differentiation, aromatase activity in brain and gonads, and the thyroid system, using the Xenopus tropicalis model. Tadpoles were chronically exposed (8 weeks) until metamorphosis. At metamorphosis brains were cryosectioned and levels of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and their metabolites 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, and homovanillic acid were measured in discrete regions (telencephalon, hypothalamus and the reticular formation) of the cryosections using high-performance liquid chromatography. Exposure to 30 nM FLU increased the concentration of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in hypothalamus compared with controls. FLU exposure did not affect survival, time to metamorphosis, thyroid histology, gonadal sex differentiation, or aromatase activity implying that the effect on the serotonergic neurotransmitter system in the hypothalamus region was specific. The FLU concentration that impacted the serotonin system is lower than the concentration measured in umbilical cord serum, suggesting that the serotonin system of the developing brain is highly sensitive to in utero exposure to FLU. To our knowledge this is the first study showing effects of developmental FLU exposure on brain neurochemistry. Given that SSRIs are present in the aquatic environment the current results warrant further investigation into the neurobehavioral effects of SSRIs in aquatic wildlife.
TREK1 is a widely expressed background potassium channel. Similar to mice treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), TREK1 knockout mice are resistant to depression-like behavior and have elevated serotonin levels leading to speculation that TREK1 inhibition may contribute to the therapeutic effects of SSRIs. This study examined how chronic fluoxetine administration and a common functional polymorphism in the serotonin-transporter-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) influence cortical TREK1 expression in 24 rhesus monkeys. The short rh5-HTTLPR allele as well as female gender were associated with reduced cortical TREK1 protein expression but chronic SSRI administration had no effect. These results suggest that serotonin may influence TREK1, but that chronic SSRI treatment does not result in long lasting changes in cortical TREK1 protein expression. TREK1 gender differences may be related to gender differences in serotonin and require further research.
Examine the quality of infant-mother attachment in a prospective case series of infants whose mothers took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy.
SSRIs are prescribed to 2 to 6% of pregnant women (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 2007; Stewart, 2011). Recent articles on the use of SSRIs during pregnancy note the increased risk for problematic infant-mother relationships among mothers with untreated postpartum depression (Gentile, 2011; Stewart, 2011). However, little is known about the quality of infant-mother relationships among mothers who took SSRIs during pregnancy.
Five mothers who took SSRIs during pregnancy were recruited from a community study of infant development. Mothers completed ratings of postpartum depression symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) 4 to 6 times between 1 month and 1 year following the infant’s birth. At 1 year postpartum, quality of infant-mother attachment was assessed using the strange situation procedure.
Four of the 5 infant-mother dyads (80%) were classified as disorganized, a rate considerably higher than in postpartum depression samples.
These results are used to raise questions about the clinical implications of research on in utero exposure to SSRIs, perinatal depression, and disorganized attachment. Specifically, this case series raises questions about using research on the link between postpartum depression and infant-mother attachment as a rationale for the use of SSRIs during pregnancy. Current research indicates use of SSRIs during pregnancy may: 1) increase risk for disorganized attachment, 2) decrease risk for disorganized attachment, or 3) have no effect on disorganized attachment.
Adequate treatment of depression during pregnancy is very important for maternal, fetal and neonatal health. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used antidepressants. According to one American study, approximately 7% of pregnant women were prescribed an SSRI in 2004–2005. First trimester use of SSRIs, as a group, is unlikely to increase the risk of congenital malformations. Paroxetine may be associated with a small increased risk of cardiac malformations, but evidence remains inconclusive. Fetal exposure to SSRIs closer to time of birth may result in respiratory, motor, central nervous system and gastrointestinal symptoms in about 10% to 30% of newborns (SSRI neonatal behaviour syndrome). These symptoms are usually mild and transient. Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is an extremely rare consequence of fetal exposure. This information should be used to make individual risk-benefit decisions when considering the treatment of depression during pregnancy. Newborns with late-pregnancy exposure to SSRIs should be observed in hospital for at least 48 h.
Depression in pregnancy; Neonatal abstinence; Neonatal behaviour syndrome; Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
This study explored the affect expression and self-regulation capacities of 8-month-old infants exposed in utero to psychotropic medications. This was a continuation of our previous study conducted on the same cohort when the infants were 3 months old. Psychotropics implicated included selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and a benzodiazepine derivative anxiolytic (clonazepam). The three comparison groups were: control (n = 23; infants not exposed to psychotropics in utero), SSRI-alone (n = 22; infants exposed to SSRIs only and having mothers who had a primary diagnosis of depressive disorder without having comorbid anxiety disorder), and SSRI+ group (n = 15; infants gestationally exposed to SSRIs and clonazepam and having mothers that had both clinical depression and anxiety disorder). Using the Parent–Child Early Relational Assessment Scale, infants were assessed in a dyadic context during free play and a structured task. There were significant differences in psychotropic exposed and non-exposed dyads regarding infant negative affect management. There were significant associations between the SSRI+ group of mothers and infant negative affect. This group of mothers also showed significant associations with infants’ averting and avoiding behaviors in both play situations. The SSRI-alone group was similar to the control group and showed variable associations with infant’s positive, negative, and sober moods unlike the SSRI+ group. There were no differences in infants’ capacity for self-regulation in psychotropic exposed and non-exposed groups. Increased awareness of these vulnerable subgroups (SSRI-alone and SSRI+) is needed, in order to safeguard these dyads through better support systems and improved management.
infants; psychotropics; gestational exposure; self-regulation; affect expression
A previous epidemiologic study reported a 30% reduced risk of colorectal cancer among users of high doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). We assessed the association of colorectal cancer risk with SSRI and tricyclic antidepressant use in our hospital-based Case Control Surveillance Study.
For the SSRI analyses, we used data collected on 529 colorectal cancer cases and 1955 hospitalized controls collected from 1995 through 2008. For the tricyclic antidepressant analyses, we used data on 2889 cases and 7122 controls collected from 1976 through 2008. We used multivariable logistic regression analysis to evaluate the association of regular SSRI use and regular tricyclic antidepressant use (daily use for at least 3 continuous months) with colorectal cancer risk.
The odds ratio for regular SSRI use was 0.55 (95% CI 0.35–0.88) and it did not differ by duration of use. The odds ratio was 0.47 (95% CI 0.26–0.85) for colon cancer and 0.72 (95% CI 0.37–1.41) for rectal cancer. The odds ratio for regular use of tricyclic antidepressants was 0.77 (95% CI 0.52–1.16)
We found an association of reduced risk of colorectal cancer with regular use of SSRIs. In light of laboratory data indicating that SSRIs may inhibit colon cancer and one previous epidemiologic study that also observed a decreased risk, further investigation of the effect of SSRIs on the risk of colorectal cancer is warranted.
colorectal cancer; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; tricyclic antidepressants; case-control study; pharmacoepidemiology
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are popular medications for anxiety and depression, but their effectiveness, particularly in patients with prominent symptoms of loss of motivation and pleasure, has been questioned. There are few studies of the effect of SSRIs on neural reward mechanisms in humans.
We studied 45 healthy participants who were randomly allocated to receive the SSRI citalopram, the noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor reboxetine, or placebo for 7 days in a double-blind, parallel group design. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the neural response to rewarding (sight and/or flavor of chocolate) and aversive stimuli (sight of moldy strawberries and/or an unpleasant strawberry taste) on the final day of drug treatment.
Citalopram reduced activation to the chocolate stimuli in the ventral striatum and the ventral medial/orbitofrontal cortex. In contrast, reboxetine did not suppress ventral striatal activity and in fact increased neural responses within medial orbitofrontal cortex to reward. Citalopram also decreased neural responses to the aversive stimuli conditions in key “punishment” areas such as the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. Reboxetine produced a similar, although weaker effect.
Our findings are the first to show that treatment with SSRIs can diminish the neural processing of both rewarding and aversive stimuli. The ability of SSRIs to decrease neural responses to reward might underlie the questioned efficacy of SSRIs in depressive conditions characterized by decreased motivation and anhedonia and could also account for the experience of emotional blunting described by some patients during SSRI treatment.
Antidepressants; depression; fMRI; reward; SSRI; ventral striatum
To analyse the relation between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use and major congenital malformations, with focus on malformations of the heart.
Register-based retrospective nationwide cohort study, using the Danish Medical Birth Registry.
Pregnant women in Denmark between 1997 and 2009 and their offspring.
Primary outcome measures
For each SSRI, ORs for major congenital malformations were estimated using multivariable logistic regression models for women exposed to an SSRI during the first trimester and for women with paused exposure during pregnancy.
The authors identified 848 786 pregnancies; 4183 were exposed to an SSRI throughout the first trimester and 806 pregnancies paused exposure during pregnancy. Risks of congenital malformations of the heart were similar for pregnancies exposed to an SSRI throughout the first trimester, adjusted OR 2.01 (95% CI 1.60 to 2.53), and for pregnancies with paused SSRI treatment during pregnancy, adjusted OR 1.85 (95% CI 1.07 to 3.20), p value for difference: 0.94. The authors found similar increased risks of specific congenital malformations of the heart for the individual SSRIs. Furthermore, the authors found no association with dosage.
The apparent association between SSRI use and congenital malformations of the heart may be confounded by indications. The moderate absolute risk increase combined with uncertainty for causality still requires the risk versus benefit to be evaluated in each individual case.
Relationship between SSRIs and congenital malformations.
Focus on malformations of the heart.
Focus on women with paused treatment during pregnancy.
Risks of congenital malformations of the heart are increased for infants whose mothers were exposed to an SSRI during the first trimester.
Risks of congenital malformations of the heart are not different for pregnancies exposed during the first trimester as for pregnancies with paused treatment during pregnancy.
The found risk increases are moderate in absolute terms.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Observational study—no causal relations.
Nationwide study, including all live births in the study period.
Register-based study—no recall bias.
Depression in children and youth is common, and requires an understanding of its developmental character and associated comorbid conditions. Initial treatment of mild depression involves active supportive measures with a focus on symptom reduction and improved daily function. Where pharmacotherapy is warranted, evidence supports the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, particularly fluoxetine, to manage moderate/severe depression. SSRI treatment should include a comprehensive management plan in the context of interdisciplinary care, an understanding of its pharmacology and clearly articulated goals for symptom reduction, functional status tracking (school, home and peers) and monitoring for the emergence of suicidal ideation/behaviour. For children with more severe symptoms or complicating factors (comorbid conditions), referral to mental health clinicians should be considered. Use of an SSRI should be associated with family/patient education about medication effects, specific social and health goals that promote self-esteem, improved function and close monitoring for adverse effects.
Depression in children and youth; Management of depression in a paediatric community setting; Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants
To assess the effectiveness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the management of chronic pain.
Randomized, controlled trials of SSRIs in the management of chronic pain were identified by searching MEDLINE from 1966 to 1997 and by contacting the manufacturers of SSRIs available in the United States.
Nineteen studies were identified, including 10 on the treatment of headache, 3 on diabetic neuropathy, 3 on fibromyalgia, and 3 on mixed-chronic pain. SSRIs were consistently helpful for mixed-chronic pain. Results were conflicting for migraine headache, tension headache, diabetic neuropathy, and fibromyalgia.
SSRIs appear to be beneficial for mixed-chronic pain. It is unclear, from the available evidence, whether SSRIs are beneficial for migraine headaches, tension headaches, diabetic neuropathy, or fibromyalgia. For those patients it may be reasonable to reserve SSRIs for those who fail to respond to other medications or who are intolerant of their side effects.
chronic pain; management of; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and insula are important neural substrates for the integration of cognitive, emotional, and physiological information, as well as the coordination of responses to anticipated stimuli. Increased neural activation within these structures has been observed in individuals with anxiety and depressive disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are among the most effective and frequently prescribed anxiolytic agents, yet it is not known whether ACC or insula underlie the effects of these drugs. We examined whether subchronic administration of an SSRI to healthy volunteers attenuate activation in ACC or insula during anticipation, an important emotional process underlying anxiety. Support for this hypothesis would help to understand where and by what process SSRIs may exert beneficial effects as anxiolytics and would provide further mechanistic evidence for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as a biomarker for the development of anxiolytics.
Participants and Design
15 volunteers participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized cross-over study. Participants completed a pleasant and aversive picture cued anticipation task during fMRI after taking either escitalopram (10 mg) or placebo for 21 days.
Main Outcome Measure
Percent BOLD signal change during SSRI administration.
Escitalopram significantly decreased activation in bilateral posterior and middle insula during the anticipation condition irrespective of stimulus valence and in medial prefrontal and ACC during anticipation of aversive versus pleasant images.
Reduced insular and ACC activation during anticipation may be integral to the therapeutic efficacy of SSRIs and provide a mechanistic approach for the use of pharmacofMRI in the identification of novel pharmacotherapeutic agents.
SSRI; escitalopram; insula; fMRI; anticipation
Selective serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the 5-HT noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, venlafaxine, are mainstays in treatment for depression. The highly specific actions of SSRIs of enhancing serotonergic neurotransmission appears to explain their benefit, while lack of direct actions on other neurotransmitter systems is responsible for their superior safety profile compared with tricyclic antidepressants. Although SSRIs (and venlafaxine) have similar adverse effects, certain differences are emerging. Fluvoxamine may have fewer effects on sexual dysfunction and sleep pattern. SSRIs have a cardiovascular safety profile superior to that of tricyclic antidepressants for patients with cardiovascular disease; fluvoxamine is safe in patients with cardiovascular disease and in the elderly. A discontinuation syndrome may develop upon abrupt SSRI cessation. SSRIs are more tolerable than tricyclic antidepressants in overdose, and there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that they are associated with an increased risk of suicide. Although the literature suggests that there are no clinically significant differences in efficacy amongst SSRIs, treatment decisions need to be based on considerations such as patient acceptability, response history and toxicity.
Antidepressants; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; fluvoxamine; tolerability; safety; review
Exposure of the general population to a 1:4 lifetime risk of disabling anxiety has inspired generations of fundamental and clinical psychopharmacologists, from the era of the earliest benzodiazepines (BZ) to that of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and related compounds, eg, the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). This comprehensive practical review summarizes current therapeutic research across the spectrum of individual disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD) and agoraphobia (social anxiety disorder), compulsive disorder (OCD), phobic disorder (including social phobia), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Specific diagnosis is a precondition to successful therapy: despite substantial overlap, each disorder responds preferentially to specific pharmacotherapy. Comorbidity with depression is common; hence the success of the SSRIs, which were originally designed to treat depression. Assessment (multidomain measures versus individual end points) remains problematic, as-frequently-do efficacy and tolerability The ideal anxiolytic remains the Holy Grail of worldwide psychopharmacologic research.
generalized anxiety disorder; panic disorder; social anxiety disorder; posttraumatic stress disorder; obsessive compulsive disorder; benzodiazepine; antidepressant
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a widely prescribed class of antidepressants. Laboratory and epidemiologic evidence suggests that a prolactin-mediated mechanism secondary to increased serotonin levels at neuronal synapses could lead to a potentially carcinogenic effect of SSRIs. In this population-based case-control study, we evaluated the association between SSRI use and breast cancer risk as a function of their relative degree of inhibition of serotonin reuptake as a proxy for their impact on prolactin levels. Cases were 2,129 women with primary invasive breast cancer diagnosed from 2003 to 2007, and controls were 21,297 women randomly selected from the population registry. Detailed information for each SSRI prescription dispensed was compiled using the Saskatchewan prescription database. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the impact of use of high and lower inhibitors of serotonin reuptake and duration of use, as well as to assess the effect of individual high inhibitors on the risk of breast cancer. Exclusive users of high or lower inhibitors of serotonin reuptake were not at increased risk for breast cancer compared with non-users of SSRIs (OR = 1.01, CI = 0.88–1.17 and OR = 0.91, CI = 0.67–1.25 respectively), regardless of their duration of use or menopausal status. While we cannot rule out the possibility of a clinically important risk increase (OR = 1.83, CI = 0.99–3.40) for long-term users of sertraline (≥24 prescriptions), given the small number of exposed cases (n = 12), the borderline statistical significance, and the wide confidence interval, these results need to be interpreted cautiously. In this large population-based case-control study, we found no conclusive evidence of breast cancer risk associated with the use of SSRIs even after assessing the degree of serotonin reuptake inhibition and duration of use. Our results do not support the serotonin-mediated pathway for the prolactin-breast cancer hypothesis.
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; SSRIs; breast cancer; prolactin; antidepressants; case-control studies
This study compared adherence and persistence of three branded antidepressants: the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) duloxetine and venlafaxine XR, and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram; and generic selective SSRIs, and examined demographic and clinical predictors of adherence and persistence in patients with major depressive disorder in usual care settings.
A total of 44,026 patients (18 to 64 years) from a large commercial administrative claims database were classified as initiators of duloxetine (n = 7,567), venlafaxine XR (n = 6,106), escitalopram (n = 10,239), or generic SSRIs (n = 20,114) during 2006. Adherence was defined as the medication possession ratio of ≥0.8 and persistence as the length of therapy without exceeding a 15-day gap. Pairwise comparisons from multivariate logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards models were performed to examine predictors of adherence and persistence.
Adherence rate after one year was significantly higher in duloxetine recipients (38.1%) than patients treated with venlafaxine XR (34.0%), escitalopram (25.4%), or generic SSRIs (25.5%) (all P < 0.01). Duloxetine recipients stayed on medication longer (158.5 days) than those receiving venlafaxine XR (149.6 days), escitalopram (129.1 days), or generic SSRIs (130.2 days) (all P < 0.001). Compared with patients treated with escitalopram or generic SSRIs, venlafaxine XR recipients had better adherence and longer persistence (P < 0.001). In addition, being aged 36 years or more, hypersomnia, anxiety disorders, and prior use of antidepressants were associated with increased adherence and persistence, while the opposite was true for comorbid chronic pain conditions, alcohol and drug dependence, and prior use of amphetamine.
Compared with SSRIs, the SNRIs appear to have better adherence and persistence. Among SNRIs, duloxetine had statistically significantly better adherence and persistence than venlafaxine XR, though differences were relatively small and further research is needed to assess whether these translate into clinically and economically meaningful outcomes. Adherence and persistence with antidepressant therapy were associated with age, multiple comorbid conditions, and prior use of medications.
treatment adherence; length of therapy; antidepressants; major depression; retrospective analysis
It is unclear whether the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressant drugs reduce the risk of suicide in people with depression. We explored the association between exposure to SSRIs and risk of suicide completion or attempt.
We conducted a systematic review of observational studies that reported completed or attempted suicide in depressed individuals who were exposed to SSRIs compared with those who were not exposed to antidepressants. We assessed the overall risk of completed or attempted suicide.
Eight studies involving more than 200 000 patients with moderate or severe depression were included in the meta-analysis. Although exposure to SSRIs increased the risk of completed or attempted suicide among adolescents (odds ratio [OR] 1.92, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.51–2.44), the risk was decreased among adults (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.47–0.70). Among people aged 65 or more years, exposure to SSRIs had a protective effect (OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.27–0.79). Sensitivity analyses did not change these findings. In particular, for studies that used completed suicide as an outcome, exposure to SSRIs was associated with increased risk among adolescents (OR 5.81, 95% CI 1.57–21.51) and decreased risk among adults (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.52–0.83) and older people (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.26–1.06).
Based on data from observational studies, use of SSRIs may be associated with a reduced risk of suicide in adults with depression. Among adolescents, use of SSRIs may increase suicidality.
We examined the long-term outcome of participants in the Treatment of SSRI-Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA) study, a randomized trial of 334 adolescents (aged 12-18 years) with DSM-IV-defined major depression disorder initially resistant to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment who were and subsequently treated for 12 weeks with another SSRI, venlafaxine, another SSRI + cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or venlafaxine + CBT. Responders then continued with the same treatment through week 24, while non-responders were given open treatment.
For the current study, patients were reassessed 48 (N=116) and 72 (N=130) weeks from intake. Data were gathered from February 2011 to February 2007. Standardized diagnostic interviews and measures of depression, suicidal ideation, related psychopathology and level of functioning were periodically administered. Remission was defined as ≥ 3 weeks with ≤ 1 clinically significant symptom and no associated functional impairment (score of 1 on the adolescent version of the Longitudinal Interval Follow-Up Evaluation [A-LIFE], and relapse as ≥ 2 weeks with probable or definite depressive disorder (score of 3 or 4 on the A-LIFE). Mixed effects regression models were applied to estimate remission, relapse, and functional recovery.
By 72 weeks, an estimated 61.1% of the randomized youths had reached remission. Randomly assigned treatment (first 12 weeks) did not influence remission rate or time to remission, but the group assigned to SSRI's had a more rapid decline in self-reported depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation than those assigned to venlafaxine (p<.05). Participants with more severe depression, greater dysfunction, and alcohol/drug use at baseline were less likely to remit. The depressive symptom trajectory of the remitters diverged from that of non-remitters by the first 6 weeks of treatment (p<.001). Of the 130 participants in remission at week 24, 25.4% relapsed in the subsequent year.
While most adolescents achieved remission, more than one-third did not, and one-fourth of remitted patients experienced a relapse. More effective interventions are needed for patients who do not show robust improvement early in treatment.
depression; adolescents; treatment; resistance