August 12, 2011
Science Daily/American Heart Association
Depression is associated with a moderately increased risk of stroke. Depressed women taking anti-depressant drugs -- particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors -- had an increased stroke risk, which researchers said may not be a cause but rather an indicator of depression severity. Researchers said patients should continue taking their anti-depressant medication.
In six years of follow-up of women in the Nurses' Health Study, researchers found that a history of depression was associated with a 29 percent increased risk of total stroke -- even after considering other stroke risk factors. Women who used anti-depressant medication -- particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors -- had a 39 percent increased risk of stroke. Examples of these drugs are Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa.
Anti-depressant medication use may be an indicator of depression severity, said Kathryn Rexrode, M.D., the study's senior author and Associate Physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. "I don't think the medications themselves are the primary cause of the risk. This study does not suggest that people should stop their medications to reduce the risk of stroke."