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February 18, 2014 | By Melissa Healy, This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
A team of researchers from the City of Hope in Duarte has developed a speedy way to identify drugs and chemicals that can disrupt the balance of sex hormones in human beings and influence the development and progress of diseases such as breast cancer. In a trial screening of 446 drugs in wide circulation, the new assay singled out the popular antidepressant paroxetine (better known by its commercial name, Paxil) as having a weak estrogenic effect that could promote the development and growth of breast tumors in women.
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SCIENCE
February 18, 2014 | By Melissa Healy, This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
A team of researchers from the City of Hope in Duarte has developed a speedy way to identify drugs and chemicals that can disrupt the balance of sex hormones in human beings and influence the development and progress of diseases such as breast cancer. In a trial screening of 446 drugs in wide circulation, the new assay singled out the popular antidepressant paroxetine (better known by its commercial name, Paxil) as having a weak estrogenic effect that could promote the development and growth of breast tumors in women.
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NEWS
January 11, 2011 | Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
Stroke victims who took the antidepressant Prozac for three months following the interruption of blood flow to the brain regained more mobility, and showed lower rates of depression, than those given a placebo pill, a new study has found. The European trial of antidepressants in the treatment of stroke was the largest of its kind, and was published online this week by the journal Lancet Neurology . Fewer subjects taking the antidepressant developed depression--a common occurrence in stroke's wake, and one that increases the risk of dying.
SCIENCE
June 28, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
Is it hot in here, or am I just depressed? For many menopausal women, hot flashes are just depressing. And depression, which affects at least one in four women ages 40 to 59, can intensify the misery of hot flashes, as well. No surprise, then, that a pharmaceutical company came up with the idea to market an antidepressant for treatment of vasomotor symptoms, a.k.a. hot flashes. And on Friday, bucking the recommendation of its advisory committee on reproductive health drugs, the Food & Drug Administration approved the idea.
NEWS
October 19, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Antidepressants apparently keep a lot of people functional, according to new data from the federal government. The most recent statistics about antidepressant use in the United States, released Wednesday, show 11% of Americans ages 12 and older take the medication. Antidepressants are the most common prescription drug used by people ages 18 to 44. Almost one-quarter of all women ages 40 to 59 take antidepressants. People tend to stick with the medications. More than 60% of those on antidepressants said they had taken it for two years or longer, and 14% had used the pills for 10 years or more.
SCIENCE
May 2, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
About 11% of Americans over age 12 take an antidepressant, making the drugs the most widely used medication in the United States. And with more than 51 million in-patient surgeries performed annually in the United States, a substantial overlap between the two patient populations -- those on antidepressants and those facing surgery -- is a certainty. What's not so certain is how antidepressants -- and specifically the most widely used class of depression medication, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs -- may affect the outcomes of surgical patients.
SCIENCE
December 8, 2009 | By Melissa Healy
Antidepressant medications taken by roughly 7% of American adults cause profound personality changes in many patients with depression, far beyond simply lifting the veil of sadness, a study has found. Researchers saw strong drops in neuroticism and increases in extroversion in patients taking antidepressants, two of five traits thought to define personality and shape a person's day-to-day thoughts and behavior. The findings are striking, researchers said, because psychologists have long thought that such fundamental traits are moorings of an adult's personality that shift very little over a lifetime.
OPINION
May 10, 2008
Re "Long, strange trip to Ecstasy," Opinion, May 3 Meghan Daum suggests that modern antidepressants are successful because they prevent the mind from "expanding into uncomfortable places." Uncomfortable? This completely belittles the terribly real (and terribly common) phenomenon of clinical depression. That antidepressants are somehow happy pills that prevent one from feeling negatively, and that they are primarily taken by people who don't need them, is an old trope. Modern antidepressants are remarkably good at treating depression -- the kind of depression that causes real suffering in real people.
NEWS
August 4, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, The Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots Blog
Antidepressants, now the third-most commonly prescribed class of drugs in the United States, are routinely offered to patients with vague complaints of fatigue, pain and malaise but who are not classified as suffering from a mental disorder by the physician who recommends the treatment, says a new study. And among primary care provider as well as specialists who are not psychiatrists, the practice of prescribing these medications without diagnosing depression is rising steeply, the study finds.
NEWS
April 2, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Taking antidepressants may raise the risk of heart disease in men by producing a thickening of artery walls, researchers said Saturday. Although a potential mechanism for the action is not obvious, the drugs appear to accelerate atherosclerosis by increasing the thickness of what is known as the intima media, the inner and middle layers of the arteries, particularly the carotid arteries that feed blood to the brain, researchers from Emory University in...
SCIENCE
May 21, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
For years, physicians have been inching their way to a better understanding of how -- and how well -- the drug ketamine, a "twilight drug" used to sedate some patients before a painful procedure, can lift someone with severe depression almost immediately from the abyss. A new study, presented in San Francisco this week at the American Psychiatric Association's yearly meeting , shows that ketamine's rapid antidepressant effect is no incidental effect of sedation: it's real, and it lasts -- albeit with diminishing effects -- for at least a week.
SCIENCE
May 2, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
About 11% of Americans over age 12 take an antidepressant, making the drugs the most widely used medication in the United States. And with more than 51 million in-patient surgeries performed annually in the United States, a substantial overlap between the two patient populations -- those on antidepressants and those facing surgery -- is a certainty. What's not so certain is how antidepressants -- and specifically the most widely used class of depression medication, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs -- may affect the outcomes of surgical patients.
SCIENCE
October 9, 2012 | By Jon Bardin
Taking a common class of antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SRIs, during pregnancy alters the developmental time-course of the child's language processing, according to a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While the results are striking, they hardly suggest the practice should be stopped: The researchers found that the children of women who are depressed while pregnant and who do not take medication are also born with an altered course of development.
NEWS
October 5, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, For the Booster Shots Blog
The Food and Drug Administration took a highly unusual step this week: It acknowledged that a widely used generic drug -- a copycat of the antidepressant Wellbutrin XL -- was not the equivalent of the original drug produced by GlaxoSmithKline since 2003. The move prompted the world's largest manufacturer of generic drugs, Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, to stop shipping its generic extended-release bupropion -- marketed as Budeprion 300 mg XL-- and to remove it from U.S. shelves.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 27, 2012 | By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
A former Westminster police detective may face life in prison after a San Bernardino County jury Tuesday rejected his defense that he was in an antidepressant-induced blackout, and legally insane, when he kidnapped and raped a waitress. Anthony Orban testified that he had no memory of the 2010 attack and blamed his psychotic break on a powerful dose of the popular antidepressant Zoloft, which he said had triggered hallucinations and suicidal and homicidal fantasies in the days before the abduction.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 20, 2012 | By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
A former Westminster police detective convicted of raping a waitress in Fontana took the witness stand for the first time Tuesday in his attempt to persuade a San Bernardino County jury that the antidepressant Zoloft turned him insane at the time of the attack. A New York psychiatrist, a key witness for the defense, also testified that in the days before the rape, defendant Anthony Orban believed he was possessed by demons and thought of killing himself, his wife and their dog. Orban, dressed in a trim, dark suit with his hair neatly brushed, told the jury that he was "falling apart" in the months leading up to the attack.
NEWS
February 23, 2011 | By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
People suffering from depression usually can find an antidepressant that works for them -- even if they have to try more than one. But how long will the drug continue to work? Here's an online discussion about the long-term effects and other aspects of these drugs. A panel at a live Web chat Thursday (noon EST, 11 a.m. CST, 9 a.m. PST) is to include Dr. John Goethe, director of the IOL Research and Depression Initiative at Hartford Hospital; Dr. Surita Rao, department head for behavioral health at St. Francis Hospital; and Andrew Winokur, director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Treatment, Research and Training Center at the University of Connecticut.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 12, 2012 | By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
A San Bernardino County prosecutor Tuesday urged a jury not to be swayed by testimony that the antidepressant Zoloft put a former Westminster police detective in a fog that made him not responsible for kidnapping and raping a waitress in 2010. Deputy Dist. Atty. Debbie Ploghaus called the so-called Zoloft defense, backed by a psychiatrist's testimony, "a bunch of baloney" and a desperate attempt by Anthony Nicholas Orban to sidestep overwhelming evidence against him. Orban was identified by the victim, was implicated by his best friend, was captured on security video footage at the scene of the attack and left his police service weapon, with his name on it, in the victim's car. Ploghaus told the jury that while bar-hopping in Ontario before the kidnapping, Orban groped a woman's chest, grabbed a man's crotch and repeatedly texted a former girlfriend hoping for an afternoon tryst.
NEWS
April 23, 2012 | By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
Publication bias: It has long been a problem in medical research. Studies that show a drug or treatment is effective are more likely to be published than studies with negative findings. As a result, the medical literature that guides how diseases and disorders are treated often provides doctors an incomplete picture of the evidence. A case in point is the use of antidepressants to treat the repetitive behaviors -- including hoarding, tapping, head banging and strict adherence to routine -- that are a hallmark of autism.
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