Recently in the British Medical Journal, a physician from Glasgow criticized the high number of antidepressants prescribed throughout the UK. He complained that antidepressants were used "too easily" for too long periods of time, and that they were effective only for a small minority. His criticisms mirror some findings in the United States, and could be significant, given that certain antidepressants -- especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) -- have been linked to birth defects.
Dr. Des Spence claimed that the UK's current definition of clinical depression -- two weeks of "low mood" -- is too broad, leading to an overdose of prescriptions. This in spite of the fact that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines do not support the use of antidepressants to treat mild depression, or as the first means of treating moderate depression. Dr. Spense also questioned the notion that depression is purely chemical, as opposed to a sign of social ills. He claimed that even if antidepressants were effective, they were only effective for one in seven people, which meant that millions underwent "at least six months of ineffective treatment."
Of course, many physicians dispute his claims. Ian Reid, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen, argued that the rise in the use of antidepressants reflected increases in the duration of some people's treatment, not necessarily in the number of users.
In the United States, antidepressant use rose 400% between 1988 and 2011. If Dr. Spense's claims are accurate of the UK, then they would be no less accurate of the U.S. While not all antidepressants have been linked to birth defects, SSRIs like Effexor have. SSRIs can be especially dangerous if taken during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you took an SSRI while pregnant and your child was born with a birth defect, you have the option of filing a medical malpractice suit against your physician. You could argue that your physician prescribed the antidepressant even though your depression was mild, and without warning you of the potential harmful effects. All physicians have a duty to inform their patients about any risks of treatment, so that the patient can make an informed decision about whether to proceed. You could argue that because your physician failed to inform you, you were injured through exposure to the antidepressants. The result was that your child was born with a birth defect.
You might also consider filing a product liability suit against the manufacturer or the antidepressant. You would argue that the manufacturer had a duty to consumers to create as safe a drug as possible, but instead designed an unreasonably dangerous drug. As a result, you were injured through exposure and your child was born with a birth defect.
The birth defect attorneys at Oshman & Mirisola, LLP have successfully represented clients in birth defect lawsuits for more than 35 years. If your child suffers from a birth defect that you believe could be due to your exposure to antidepressants while pregnant, please contact us today by calling (800) 400-8182, or submit our online Contact Us form.