3 MIN READ | Clinical Psychology

Can Antidepressants Cause Psychosis?

Elena Deeley

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Elena Deeley, (2021, January 20). Can Antidepressants Cause Psychosis?. Psychreg on Clinical Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/antidepressants-psychosis/
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Antidepressants are used as a medication for patients suffering from depression or dysthymic disorder. However, it’s worth noting that the medicines are meant to lessen their symptoms but not completely cure them. While using the medication, you also need to be vigilant of any adverse side effects.

There have been lots of reports where people on antidepressants suffered from severe side effects like psychotic episodes. Research conducted by giving SSRIs to 2,200 children showed that 4% of them experienced suicidal thoughts. This led to a Black box warning by the FDA on various prescription drugs. Read on to learn more.

How antidepressants cause psychosis

Once a patient consumes antidepressants, the drug increases neurotransmitter production in the central nervous system. In turn, it slows down the brain’s activity. This makes the user feel relaxed, but it may also have other effects such as drowsiness and disorientation. However, there are a significant number of patients who have experienced adverse effects, including psychosis.

Researchers continue to try and determine the cause of psychotic attacks, with one theory basing its findings around the sigma receptors. The receptors are found around the brain region and are responsible for mood, perception, and cognition regulation. Interaction of these receptors with antidepressants is a possible cause of psychosis.

Another study done in 2002 found that overstimulation of the brain’s dopamine system was a significant cause of psychosis. Patients who experienced psychosis or mania exhibited high levels of dopamine metabolites. Another hypothesis claimed that people who had sensitive serotonin receptors could experience hallucinations after administering SSRI medications. It’s due to an increase in serotonin levels around the receptors.

FDA alerts for popular antidepressant drugs

Today, the most popular drugs used for depression treatment in both children and adults is SSRI. Although most physicians trust the medications due to fewer side effects, they are not 100% safe for all users. Some of the common SSRI prescriptions include:

  • Paxil
  • Prozac
  • Lexapro
  • Zoloft

Patients who take these drugs coupled with some triptans, drug treatment for migraine, may have potentially fatal serotonin syndrome. It can cause symptoms such as muscle cramps, high blood pressure, and confusion. If the syndrome becomes life-threatening, the patient may also experience high fevers, seizures, and consciousness loss.

Side effects of antidepressants

Patients using antidepressants can have some minor side effects such as loss of appetite, constipation, dry mouth, or diarrhoea. The drugs can also lead to more intense problems, including:

  • Kidney failure
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Internal bleeding
  • Blurred vision

Additionally, others may suffer from similar symptoms to Parkinson’s disease patients, such as spasms, muscle tics, restlessness, or tremors.

Legal options

Patients who may have experienced severe side effects due to antidepressants could be entitled to compensation. Whenever someone suffers these adverse side effects, they should first talk to a prescription drug lawyer. They can evaluate your case to know whether you can file a liability claim for the pain and suffering caused by the drug. The settlement can help pay for the medical bills and lost wages.

One example of an antidepressant lawsuit involved a man named Andreas who suffered from hallucinations, suicidal ideas, hostility, and psychosis. As a result, he attacked his children and also stabbed himself. In another case, a 48-year-old man killed eight colleagues at his workplace then proceeded to kill himself. Eli Lilly, the drug company, had to pay many families to silence them, but they later received 170 claims.

Final thoughts

Antidepressants can cause serious side effects to your body, including psychosis, as seen in various patients. As a result, only well trained and qualified medical experts should prescribe the drugs. Patients who have psychotic behaviours leading to damages after consuming such medication can file a lawsuit. A prescription drug lawyer can assist you in getting justice and the right amount of compensation.


Elena Deeley did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.


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