Mirtazapine and Fluoxetine, the generic names for such popular anti-depressants as Prozac, Remeron, and Avanza, have been linked to increased risk of a dangerous bacterial infection.
In a paper published in BMC Medicine, doctors have shown a statistical although not causal link between those who take either of these two anti-depressants and a 100% increase in the likelihood that such individuals will suffer from an infection of Clostridium difficile. This is one of the most common hospital-related infections and is responsible for over 7,000 deaths every year in America alone.
Interestingly, depression itself was linked to increased risk of infection and even something as seemingly innocuous as being older and living alone can increase risk by as much as 52%.
Depression is common worldwide. We have long known that depression is associated with changes in the gastrointestinal system. The interaction between the brain and the gut, called the “brain-gut axis” is fascinating and deserves more study. Our finding of a link between depression and Clostridium difficile should help us better identify those at risk of infection and perhaps, encourage exploration of the underlying brain-gut mechanisms involved. —Dr. Mary Rogers
Doctors stress that anyone taking these medications should continue their treatment into the foreseeable future, because although there is a statistical connection it is not known whether the infection is due to changes in metabolism relating to depression or the anti-depressants themselves.
But it wouldn’t hurt to bring this up with your doctor.