Agranulocytosis Can Kill – Dangerous Side Effect of Psychiatric Drugs

by | Mar 15, 2011

What is agranulocytosis? “Agranulocytosis is a condition that results from failure of an individual’s bone marrow to produce a sufficient quantity of white blood cells, or increased destruction of the white blood cells. As a result, the white blood cell count will be low. Acquired agranulocytosis occurs most often as a result of medications or treatments.” 1


Agranulocytosis is an extremely dangerous side effect that may result from the use of certain antipsychotic drugs and anti-depressants.


According to the National Institutes of Health, “Psychiatric medications cause side effects in several organ systems that need emergency evaluation and treatment.”


Serious cardiovascular, neurological, genitourinary are listed in this NIH article, “…and the serious hematological side effect of agranulocytosis.” 2


The above National Institute of Health article describes the drugs that may most likely cause the worst and most dangerous side effects, including that of agranulocytosis:


“Individual psychiatric drug classes most notorious for causing side effects with high morbidity and mortality are low potency neuroleptics,[anti-psychotic drugs] clozapine, [used in treating schizophrenia] tertiary tricyclics,[antidepressants] monoamine oxidase inhibitors, [antidepressant]) and lithium [used to treat the manic phase of depression].”


How dangerous is agranulocytosis?  The following is taken from an emedicine article, on WebMD: 3


  • “If agranulocytosis is untreated, the risk of dying is high. Death results from uncontrolled sepsis.
  • If the condition can be reversed with treatment, the risk of dying is low. Antibiotic and antifungal medications can cure the infection if the ANC [white blood cells that contain tiny sacs of enzymes that help the cell to kill and digest microorganisms it has engulfed] rises.
  • Morbidity is entirely due to infections that complicate agranulocytosis. The infections may be superficial, involving mainly the oral mucosa, gums, skin, and sinuses, or they may be systemic [spread throughout the bloodstream], with life-threatening septicemia.


“The emedicine article presents the following symptoms of agranulocytosis:


  • Fever may be present (temperature often 40 º C or higher).
  • Rapid pulse and respiration may be evident.
  • Hypotension and signs of septic shock if infection has been present
  • Painful aphthous ulcers [ulcerations on the mucous membranes] may be found in the oral cavity.
  • Swollen and tender gums may be present.
  • Usually, purulent [pus] discharge is not present, because not enough neutrophils [type of white blood cells] exist to form pus.
  • Skin infections are associated with painful swelling, but erythema [abnormal redness of the skin resulting from dilation of blood vessels] and suppuration [festering] are usually absent.”


Is there a non-toxic, safe and effective way to conquer depression?


MSN Health online recently gave some common sense advice:


“When we get depressed or anxious, experts may recommend medication and/or therapy. But a newly emerging school of thought suggests that a simple, age-old principle may be part of both the prevention and the cure: Help others to help yourself.”



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