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Health Canada strengthens antidepressant warning
Last Updated Thu, 03 Jun 2004 18:52:43

OTTAWA - People of all ages who take newer antidepressant drugs may experience behavioural and emotional changes that may increase the risk of harming themselves or others, Health Canada warned Thursday.

The department strengthened its warning about Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) or Serotonin Noradrenalin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SNRIs).

The advisory applies to:

  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin and Zyban)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Venlaflaxine (Effexor)
A small number of patients taking the drugs may feel worse instead of better, the advisory said.

Doctors, patients, families and other caregivers should be on the lookout for signs of suicidal thoughts or worsening depression, such as hostility, anxiety or insomnia, especially when a patient begins the drug therapy or whenever the dose is changed.

If someone feels worse, they should consult a doctor immediately. It is very important that patients do not stop taking their medication without first consulting a doctor, the advisory stressed.

In February, Health Canada advised patients under the age of 18 who were being treated with the SSRIs to consult a doctor.

Thursday's stronger advisory is similar to a U.S. warning issued earlier this spring. Drug regulators in the U.K. have banned the use of most SSRIs in children.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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