This Website Is Not Legal or Medical Advice. All contents of this website including text, images, and graphics are for general informational purposes only. The information on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional legal advice, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care professional. Do not delay seeking medical treatment because of anything you have read on this website. If you need legal advice, consult with an attorney, as this website is not intended to instruct you to take any legal action or inaction.

Antidepressants and Seizure Risk Examined in a New Study

According to a newly published study, involving 10,002 subjects, antidepressant exposure was associated with an increased risk of seizures among individuals with major depressive disorder, (Chi-Shin Wu, Hsin-Yen Liu, Hui-Ju Tsai, and Shi-Kai Liu, "Seizure Risk Associated With Antidepressant Treatment Among Patients With Depressive Disorders: A Population-Based Case-Crossover Study," Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (October 2017): epub ahead of print, doi:10.4088/JCP.16m11377). The study was composed of individuals visiting the emergency department or being hospitalized. The risk of seizures were compared when individuals were on and off antidepressant medications. Antidepressants were associated with a 48% higher overall seizure risk, with the highest Wellbutrin (buproprion) which more than double increased the risk and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which resulted in a 76% higher risk. The higher the doses were, the higher the seizure risks were. Elevated risks were also found for serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and mirtazapine (Remeron). The highest risk was found for individuals aged 10 to 24 years.

As discussed in my book, up to 60% of individuals with autism who do not have clinical seizures, have subclinical seizures, (Sarah J. Spence and Mark, T. Schneider, "The Role of Epilepsy and Epileptiform EEGs in Autism Spectrum Disorders," Pediatric Research 65, no. 6 (June 2009): 599, doi:10.1203/01.pdr.0000352115.41382.65) placing them at a higher risk when some psychiatric medications are given, as happened to my brother Stuart, who never had seizures until he was on psychiatric medications.

We need to have other interventions available, such as applied behavior analysis, cognitive behavior therapy and exercise to treat depression.