Depression and antidepressant use are associated with an increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a life-threatening condition in which blood clots form in the veins of legs or lungs. The findings are published online in the Annals of Medicine.
The new systematic review and meta-analysis spanned 8 observation studies with data on nearly 1 million participants and 9027 cases of VTE. Researchers conducted it to shed light on previously conflicting reports on whether depression and antidepressants are linked with a higher risk for VTE.
Although the research revealed a relationship between both depression and antidepressant use and VTE, the meta-analysis could not specify whether the link is mainly driven by depression or antidepressants or both. It did reveal, however, that each of the various antidepressant classes is associated with a heightened risk of VTE.
Researchers pointed to the need for future studies that investigate VTE risk but are designed to isolate depression from antidepressant drugs. For example, studies could look at VTE risk among patients who take antidepressants for neurologic or gastrointestinal disease, they pointed out.
In the meantime, the meta-analysis findings should encourage prescribers to evaluate patients for excess risk of VTE during their management.
“These findings are very useful to me as both a clinician and a researcher,” said lead researcher Setor Kunutsor, PhD, a research fellow at Bristol Medical School in England. “It gives me the information I need, especially when prescribing antidepressant medications to my patients."
Kunutsor SK, Seidu S, Khunti K. Depression, antidepressant use, and risk of venous thromboembolism: systematic review and meta-analysis of published observational evidence. Annals of Medicine. 2018 July 12;[Epub ahead of print].