A Brief Overview for Injury Victims of the Zoloft Antidepressant Drug

Medications, like Zoloft, are widely used to treat conditions such as depression; but a growing number of scientific studies show they can present significant health risks as well. Zoloft is the brand name for an antidepressant medication sold by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The drug contains a class of compounds called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which have been proven effective in the treatment of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety disorders. SSRIs have also been linked to serious side effects, including an increased risk for suicide, sexual dysfunction, bone loss, and birth defects.

Suicidal Behavior

Zoloft and other SSRIs were first introduced into the market in the 1980s, and reports of an increased instance of suicidal thoughts among those who took the drug began to appear soon after. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directed pharmaceutical companies to expand warning statements to include advisories about risks of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children and adolescents.

Birth Defects

Reports of an increased risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) for children born to women taking SSRIs prompted the FDA to release a Public Health Advisory in 2006. Around 15% of infants born with PPHN die. A comprehensive study of 30,000 women conducted in Denmark in 2007 found that the risk of PPHN increased in women who used SSRIs late in their pregnancies.

SSRIs can impact mental development too. A 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that infants born to women who took antidepressants like Zoloft during the second or third trimester, met developmental milestones later in childhood than babies born to women who didn’t take the medications.

Other Serious Side Effects

In 2007, two studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found an increased instance of bone loss in seniors who took SSRIs over those who did not. Researchers believe that SSRIs cause bone cells to release calcium at a higher rate.

Other health risks associated with Zoloft include reduced blood clotting capacity, insomnia, muscle pain and serotonin syndrome, which can result in changes in blood pressure, heart beat, and body temperature. Diminished sexual interest and performance are also commonly reported.