Canadian psychiatrists prescribe more antidepressant medications than all but two nations on earth, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). These medications are considered crucial to treating depression and lowering patients’ risk of suicide and other related health issues. However, a new study from researchers at Hamilton, Ontario’s McMaster University has raised concerns about the safety of antidepressants and caught the attention of Ontario medication error lawyers.

New research

McMaster researchers analyzed 16 studies on antidepressant use involving a total of 378,000 patients. They determined that ‘antidepressant … users had a 33 per cent higher chance of death over people not on the drugs’ and ‘a 14 per cent higher risk of having a “new” cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart attack,’ the National Post reports.

Antidepressants block the absorption of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood. Blocking serotonin also impacts the function of tiny cells in the bloodstream called platelets that form clots to prevent bleeding. This diminished platelet function effectively makes antidepressants a blood thinner, the McMaster researchers argue.

“[Through antidepressant use] it’s possible for a normal person to have increased risk of stroke, or upper GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding or other sorts of abnormal bleeding events that could be harmful or deadly,” McMaster associate professor Paul Andres, the study’s lead author, told the Post.

“Most people should not be given these drugs because it looks like, at least in the general population samples, they’re doing more harm than good,” he added.


Prominent psychiatric professionals have looked to sooth fears in the wake of the McMaster study. Dr. Joel Paris, a former chair of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, told the Post that “a single study like this shouldn’t frighten anybody.”

“More people are taking (antidepressants) for a lifetime,” he said. “So, is this safe? Up to now we haven’t seen any problems … I’m advising a lot of caution about interpreting the results in any way that the public should be alarmed, or reassured. I don’t think it’s enough to do either.”

Dr. David Baldwin, chair of UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists’ psychopharmacology committee, reminded the Daily Mail that depression is linked to increased risk of a wide range of health problems, including mortality. Antidepressants “are a life saver for many, reducing the risk of suicide in depressed patients,” a college spokesperson added.

Medication error lawyers

Associate professor Paul Andrew’s study is by no means an irrefutable condemnation of antidepressant use, but it presents an opportunity to discuss the ramifications of unsafe prescribing practices. Powerful medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, and opioid painkillers can have devastating health effects on some individuals’ health. Ontario medication error lawyers believe that prescribing or administering these drugs in a careless, negligent, or aggressive manner can harm a patient’s quality of life, and could necessitate a personal injury lawsuit.

If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of an improper medical prescription, Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Ontario medication error lawyers can help. Contact Neinstein today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation and learn how our team has represented injured Ontarians for decades.

Greg Neinstein