It is common knowledge that alcohol causes drivers to suffer an elevated risk of accidents. Many studies have likewise connected things like illegal drug abuse and cell phones to dangerous driving. A new study has shown a link between legal antidepressants, including Prozac and Seroxat, and motor vehicle accidents. According to research from the University of Taiwan, the use of antidepressants and certain other psychotropic medications can increase a person’s chances of getting into a car accident by as much as 70 percent.
Prescriptions for antidepressant drugs are on the rise. Such prescriptions are up 25 percent from four years ago. In reviewing the impact of these drugs on accident rates, the researchers found that a particular type of drug known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors caused a 72 percent increase in risk. Prozac and Seroxat are the most common drugs of this type. Sleeping pills were also studied. The sleeping pill varieties known as benzodiazepines, including such drugs as Valium and Ativan, caused a 56 percent increase in the risk of accidents.
The study also showed that the impairment caused by these drugs sets in very quickly. The increase in accident rates set in within the first 24 hours of taking the drugs. The lead researchers suggested that doctors should either consider safer alternatives to these medications, or should instruct patients taking these treatments to avoid driving.
Anyone taking an antidepressant should be aware of the possibility that the medication will have a detrimental impact on the ability to drive.
Source: Daily Mail, “Taking Prozac? Don’t Drive: Pills raise risk of you having an accident by 70%,” by Sophie Borland, 12 September 2012