Sep 04

That psychotropic drugs and other psychoactive drugs often have negative effects on behavior, is well-known to most. That their use can cause aggression, is known with antidepressants such as Prozac and Ritalin. However, there haven’t been any systematic examinations of these drugs and drug groups for their impact on violent behavior.

Now, U.S. scientists from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices published a study in the open access journal PLoS One based on data provided by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), in which for 31 of a total of 484 studied drugs they found an unusually strong coincidence with reports of violence against others. This does not mean that these drugs directly cause violence, but there could be a connection.

31 drugs of a total of 464 drugs evaluated were associated with 79 percent of cases of violence during a period of 69 months. This included 11 antidepressants, 3 drugs for the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity Syndrome (ADD / ADHD), 5 sedatives and varenicline which is used during smoking cessation. Its active ingredient is sold under the name Champix and has numerous side effects, including suicidal behavior and aggression – therefore, the FDA has recently issued a warning for this substance. The use of varenicline has to be consiedered as highly questionable after this study and is at the top of the list of problematic drugs. One-fifth of the reports of violence were associated with this drug, the tendency to violence is 18 times higher with it than for the other drugs. Bupropion (in Germany acted as Elontril) which is also used for smoking cessation, has a smaller connection to violent behavior, but is primarily used as an antidepressant.

However, there are links to violence with all antidepressants: all ahead is fluoxetine (Prozac) with more than ten times likeliness of violent outbreaks, paroxetine is in third place. With all antidepressants, the connection to violence is 8.4 times more likely than for all other psychoactive drugs. There is also a high probability for amphetamines as Atomexitin (Strattera) and methylphenidate (Ritalin), which are used to treat ADHD and a 9 – and 3.4-fold higher risk of having connection to violence. Of the psychoactive drugs, there is the sleeping drug triazolam (Halcion) with a 8.7-fold and zolpidem with an 6.7-fold increased risk. Among the non-psychoactive drugs was mefloquine (Lariam), which is used for prophylaxis and treatment of malaria, with a 9.5-fold risk.

(Links to research papers and tables: “Medikamente und Gewalt” (German language; in: telepolis 12.01.2011)

Jul 22

At a conference organized by the Health Promotion Fund for a Healthy Austria, experts recently lectured on approaches to resolve critical future scenarios. One of the core points was the question of the affordability of health care.

Obesity is one of the most pressing health problems and is consistent across all age and social groups. One in five pupils between six and 15 years has an excessively high body weight, eight percent of them are actually obese. Of the adults between 18 and 65 years, almost half are overweight or obese. “One consequence of these developments is an increasing wave of disease and therefore costs to the health care system, because being overweight is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers,” said Ch. Hörhan, head of the funds.

Stress, on the other hand, is an indirect co-causing factor for cardiovascular diseases and mental disorders – albeit indirect and thus often underestimated by health policies. According to surveys, the percentage of Europeans feeling stressed out has raised significantly over the last 10 years. The number of prescribed psychotropic drugs has also increased, as has the number of sick days due to mental problems according to one of the contributors. Among the reasons for invalidity pensions, mental illnesses is already in second place with 29 percent.

Stress can not only be caused by heavy workload, but also by financial problems, difficulties within the social environment or worries about the future. In the past few years, the influence of social, economic and social factors on the health of the population has become clearer – but still with only little consequence on health policies.

Sidenote by R.L.Fellner: according to latest research, apart from other hormonal changes involved by stress, cortisol distribution increases – under certain conditions, this can be a contributing cause for obesity (Cushing’s Syndrome / Hypercortisolism [more]).