Antidepressants and Violence: The Clear Connection

by | Feb 5, 2016

ViolenceThe idea that antidepressants cause violent behavior has been a concern for years. A study published late last year in Sweden found convincing evidence that this concern is warranted.
The evidence showed that young adults from 15 to 24 years old who were currently on an antidepressant drug were more likely to be convicted of the following crimes:

  • Homicide
  • Assault
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual Offense
  • Other violent crimes

SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro) and fluvoxamine (Luvox).
In an article in Psychology Today, Leonard J. Davis says “… these very drugs we hope can treat mental illness are at the same time drugs that cause violent behavior including suicide and aggression toward others. In fact, SSRI’s are the leading drugs in a recent list compiled of the Top Ten Drugs that cause violent behavior.
“It’s been well known that adolescents and young people have an increased risk of suicide when they begin to take SSRIs. But what we may forget is that suicide is an impulsive behavior that is turned against oneself. But impulses, particularly violent ones, can be turned against others.”
These concerns are from the horse’s mouth. And of course, there have been black box warnings about suicidal behavior on bottles of SSRIs prescriptions for many years.
Time compiled a list of the top 10 drugs that can produce violent behavior. Not surprisingly, five antidepressants are on this list. And all but one of these drugs include pharmaceuticals used by psychiatrists to treat their patients.
10) Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) An antidepressant that is 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.
9) Venlafaxine (Effexor) This is a psychiatric drug used to treat anxiety disorders. It is 8.3 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.
8) Fluvoxamine (Luvox) This antidepressant drug is is 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be linked with violence
7) Triazolam (Halcion) This is a benzodiazepine drug that can be addictive, and is used for insomnia. It is 8.7 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs.
6) Atomoxetine (Strattera) Used to treat ADHD, Strattera is 9 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to the other medications.
5) Mefoquine (Lariam) This malaria treatment is linked with reports of bizarre behavior and is 9.5 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs.
4) Amphetamines: (Various) Amphetamines are used to treat ADHD. They are 9.6 times more likely to be linked to violence when compared to other drugs.
3) Paroxetine (Paxil) An SSRI antidepressant, Paxil is additionally associated with more severe withdrawal symptoms and a much increased risk of birth defects compared to other medications in that class. It is 10.3 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs.
2) Fluoxetine (Prozac) The first well-known SSRI antidepressant, Prozac is 10.9 times more likely to be linked with violence in comparison with other medications.
1) Varenicline (Chantix) The anti-smoking medication Chantix affects is 18 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs.
It is intolerable that psychiatric medications have side effects dangerous not only to the patient himself but to those in his environment. A single life lost due to this profession’s cavalier attitude must be considered when state and federal governments consider giving the mental health community additional support.
There has been research done in safely helping those with mental problems using nutrition and gentle treatment. It is worthwhile investigating and supporting endeavors that do not require a black box warning before administering.


  1. Cory Johnson

    I would argue that the SSRI, or Atomoxetine, increases competence in the individual, which makes them more confident that they can “win” the altercation, thus leading to more confrontation.

  2. Eli

    This is very similar to me. I was on Strattera (Atomoxetine) for many months and I was super reactive and verbally aggressive. When kids annoyed me to the slightest, I would angrily react to them and it hurt me in high school. The worst thing is that parents would blame all the bad things on me and punish me, but whenever I did something good, it was the Meds. I am strongly against SSRIs based on my personal and friends experiences.

  3. Tony Delia

    This is what happened to me, ( The Short Version) about a month of taking Zoloft I started drinking heavily, this is also a side affect of taking SSRI’s the body craving more sugar and alcohol being one of the fastest ways to get it. Between the Zoloft and drinking I commited a felony, will just say a sex crime here, something I had never thought of or committed before, never even entered my mind. My lawyer did not even want to present this to the court, anyway after being locked up and not having the Zoloft in my system for about a month, it was like coming out of a heavy fog my mind started to clear. I always tell people to find another way to deal with depression in other ways and to stay away from these drugs that can alter your mind, all the science will never be able to tell us what these drugs can do to the mind NEVER!!

    • Randy Pettie

      I used welbutrin and celaxa, both started out with low doses and i noticed increased aggression and frustration and lose of control during these times, both were increased and my anger, aggression and frustration increased dramatically and my tend for violence was increased, i am currently trying a new med to help with my depression and anxiety, it is a very scary feeling losing control

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