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Depression Health Center

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Some Antidepressants Linked to Surgical Risks

It's not clear whether SSRI drugs should be stopped before procedures, study says


"If the new findings hold up in future studies, SSRIs may be added to this list," Auerbach said. Until then, "I would lean toward stopping if my doctor thought it was fine to do so," but is not an easy decision, he added. "I would hate for recovery to be impeded because depression or anxiety is out of control, so it is important to strike a balance."

Dr. David Straker, an adjunct assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City, said he routinely discusses this issue with his patients, and often their surgeons, too. There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for who should stop taking an SSRI before surgery and who should not, said Straker, who was not involved with the new study.

"It depends on the surgical procedure, the type of SSRI they are taking and the severity of their depression or anxiety," Straker said. "Sometimes I recommend that they stop a week before the procedure or I lower the dose if the surgery is associated with a lot of blood loss."

All SSRIs are not created equal when it comes to bleeding risk and the amount of time they stay in the body (also known as their "half-life"), he pointed out. "It is individualized," Straker said. "Talk to your psychiatrist and, if need be, he or she can discuss your risks with your surgeon."

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