Handling Depression: SSRIs, Overprescription, and Pregnancy


Numerous lawsuits against SSRI antidepressants are underway. SSRI use is now linked to birth defects when taken by expectant mothers. Another recent study indicates another unusual find, however – many people prescribed these antidepressants don’t even have clinical depression.

Recent Study Finds That SSRI Antidepressants Are Overprescribed

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, most people on SSRIs may not be clinically depressed. In fact, the majority don’t have any serious psychological condition. Nearly 70% of antidepressant users aren’t clinically depressed. And nearly 40% don’t have obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, either. The repercussions of this are numerous: Not only does this undermine the severity of a very serious psychological condition, but it also means that countless individuals are taking a medication with serious side effects. So how did this issue come to be?

How Are Antidepressants Prescribed?

Guidelines differ by country, but in the United States, clinical depression is diagnosed when a person has at least five symptoms for most of each day during a two-week period or longer.

Unfortunately, that two-week window makes determining clinical depression rather difficult. Many people experience temporary unhappiness or solemnness, but it typically subsides. Clinical depression isn’t triggered by life events or circumstances. Rather, it’s a chemical imbalance within the brain. Therapy, exercise and meditation won’t work on clinical depression because it’s a physical issue, like arthritis.

Every case differs, but regular clinical depressions symptoms include:

  • Unusual weight loss or gain
  • Change in appetite
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Insomnia
  • Constant fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of worthlessness

Research from the study indicated that one variety of antidepressants in particular have been overprescribed as of late: SSRIs. This is likely because SSRIs are frequently the first antidepressant prescribed to a person.

What’s Different About SSRI Antidepressants?

SSRIs prevent the reuptake of neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. This is very effective for clinical depression, with one major caveat: how it affects a developing baby.

Major SSRI antidepressants include Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft. They’re approved by the FDA, but there’s little to no research on safety during pregnancy, as such studies can’t occur with a developing fetus. Research shows this drug crosses the placental barrier, which can directly affect the baby.

Mothers who take SSRI medications can have babies born with developmental problems. Autism is one recent significant finding. A second? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And those are just the psychological – pulmonary hypertension, cleft palate and congenital heart defects are also associated with SSRIs. As a result, countless lawsuits are pending against SSRI manufacturers.

What You Can Do

If you or someone you know took an SSRI during pregnancy, you may be eligible to sue the manufacturer. First, it’s a good idea to have your case reviewed by an attorney who is familiar with mass torts of this nature, as he or she can help you be more successful with your case as you move forward. Whether you suffer from clinical depression or not, SSRIs are dangerous during pregnancy.

1. MailOnline, Madlen. “More than Two Thirds of People Taking Antidepressants ‘may NOT Actually Have Depression’: Doctors Discover Many Do Not Meet the Official Criteria.” Mail Online. April 3, 2015. Accessed April 9, 2015.

2. “Experiences of Antidepressants.” Accessed April 9, 2015.

3. Roni Caryn Rabin, “Are Antidepresants Safe During Pregnancy?,” The New York Times. Accessed April 9, 2015.

4. Salynn Boyles, “Antidepressants Linked to Birth Defect,” WebMD. Accessed April 9, 2015.

Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.