Antidepressants may treat your depression, but new research suggests they may also increase the risk of certain types of strokes.
According to a study published in the journal Neurology, taking Lexapro, Zoloft or other common antidepressants has been linked to hemorrhagic strokes.
Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by excessive bleeding in the brain. It occurs less frequently, compared to ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blood clot blocking a vessel in the brain.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly used antidepressants. They reduce the number of platelets in the red blood cells that stick together.
Lead study author Dr. Daniel G. Hackam, of Western University in London, Ontario, and colleagues analyzed 16 studies of half a million participants.
Hackam and his team discovered that those who take antidepressants are 40 to 50 percent more likely to suffer bleeding in or around the brain.
Though it seems like a high percentage, Dr. Hackam explained the risk would be "extremely low." Researchers noted nearly 24.6 of the strokes occur among every 100,000 people a year. Antidepressants were found to raise the risk to one stroke for every 10,000 people annually. However, the risk of stroke appears mostly within the first few months, according to the researchers.
To those who are already high risk for factors for these types of strokes, Dr. Hackam recommends considering non-SSRI antidepressants such as Wellbutrin.
Dr. Hackam reminds consumers that overall these drugs are safe. The risk of stroke decreases the longer an individual takes the antidepressant.
Health expert Carolyn Drazinc, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and the department of genetics and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Conn, agrees the study should not cause too much worry.
"The risk of hemorrhagic stroke is very low," she told US News. "This study is more of a message to physicians to just think about this potential risk as they're starting someone on SSRIs."
Other SSRIs include: fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and paroxetine (Paxil).
Published by Medicaldaily.com