Chantix and Depression
Chantix is an FDA approved smoking cessation drug. The FDA announced that it appears “increasingly likely” that Chantix may cause significant psychiatric symptoms including depression, violent behavior, and suicide. Chantix use has been linked to 40 suicides and over 400 attempted suicides in the United States. Typically, patients developed depression while taking Chantix; however, some Chantix users developed depression after withdrawal from treatment.
How does Chantix Cause Depression?
Chantix helps people quit smoking by blocking the brain’s receptors that produce nicotine’s pleasurable effects. Chantix binds itself to the receptors and restricts the receptor’s ability to release dopamine (dopamine is a chemical in the brain that provides sudden and temporary pleasurable feelings). Chantix may also impair the brain’s ability to derive enjoyment from other safe activities. The lack of enjoyment causes depression and suicidal thoughts. Scientists and researchers are still studying Chantix’s effect on other brain receptors.
Chantix Depression and Violent Behavior
On September 3, 2007, Chantix’s link to depression and violent behavior received national attention. Carter Albrecht, a 34 year-old Dallas resident, threateningly and violently pounded on his neighbor’s door resulting in his death. Albrecht’s family claims that his Chantix use contributed to his uncharacteristic and sudden violent behavior. Reports indicate that Albrecht took Chantix just before the violent episode. This unfortunate incident highlighted the link between Chantix and depression/violent behavior.
FDA Warnings on Chantix and Depression
In November 2007, the FDA announced that it received hundreds of adverse event reports from Chantix users. The adverse event reports related to:
- Behavioral changes
- Depressed mood
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicidal behavior
In February 2008, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory alerting health care providers and patients that there is a likely connection between Chantix and severe depression symptoms. The FDA requested that Pfizer, Chantix’s manufacturer, prominently display a safety warning on Chantix’s label detailing the depression risk. The FDA also announced that it was working with Pfizer to create a Medication Guide for patients describing the increased depression risk.
In May 2008, the FDA approved the Medication Guide and Chantix’s new label. The FDA also warned Chantix users that if they experience depression or suicidal thoughts, they should immediately contact their doctors.
Suffering from Depression?
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression following Chantix use, please contact a doctor immediately. If you would like more information about Chantix and its link to depression, please contact us today.