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Study Finds 75% of Propecia Users Who Report Side Effects Also Suffer Depression

Propecia Label 500x500The anti-baldness medication Propecia (finasteride) has long been linked to erectile dysfunction and other sexual disorders. Now a retrospective study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry has found that 75% of patients who experience side effects resulting from Propecia use also suffer from depression.

The study was conducted by endocrinologist Dr. Michael S. Irwig of George Washington University. Dr. Irwig studied the rate of depression among 61 former patients who had reported experiencing side effects resulting from Propecia for a minimum of three months. Dr. Irwig also noted the rate of depression in a control group of participants who had never taken Propecia and did not have psychiatric symptoms.

Some patients with Propecia side effects have suicidal thoughts

The study found that in the group of patients with side effect resulting from Propecia, 75% reported that they suffered depression; 64% said they suffered moderate to severe depression; 39% had suicidal thoughts; and 5% agreed with the statement “I would like to kill myself.”

In contrast, only 10% of the people in the control group experienced symptoms of depression, and only one man had thoughts of suicide.

Does Propecia cause depression?

The study results indicate that men who have experienced side effects resulting from Propecia are more likely to suffer depression than men who have never taken Propecia. But correlation does not always mean causation, and many questions remain: Did Propecia (finasteride) itself cause the depression? Did these men experience sexual side effects from Propecia and then become depressed because their sex lives had suffered? Or, conversely, did they suffer depression which in turn resulted in sexual dysfunction? It’s a chicken-and-egg conundrum that will require further study to unravel.

Finasteride does cross the blood brain-barrier, and it is possible that it may affect the gamma-aminobutyric acid neurotransmitter, which could cause depression and anxiety. If further study proves conclusively that Propecia causes depression, then many more Propecia lawsuits against manufacturer Merck would certainly be filed in future.

Dr. Irwig has done a number of studies about the effects of Propecia. His 2011 study found that 20% of men who suffered sexual side effects from Propecia continued to have these side effects five years after discontinuing the drug, leading Dr. Irwig to speculate that in these cases, the side effects may be permanent.

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