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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Non Prescription Pain Medications, SSRI's and Depression

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: May 3rd 2011

Non Prescription Pain Medications, SSRI's and DepressionTwo articles recently appeared about the potential health risks of ordinary pain medications.

1. Michael Wolf, PhD, a researcher and Associate Professor of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, conducted a study in which he found that people  know little about the ingredients of the non prescription pain medications they take and the dangers they pose. For example,  Tylenol contains acetaminophen, Bayer contains aspirin, Advil and Motrin contain ibuprofen, and Aleve contains naproxen sodium.

Dr. Wolf says that many people who take acetaminophen(Tylenol), assume that it's safe because it's sold over the counter. They don't not realize that taking too much of the drug can be dangerous and lead to liver damage. As a result of underestimating the dangers of these medications, too many individuals over dose and end up in the hospital emergency rooms. To further underline the seriousness of the problem is the fact that these medications are mixed with prescription medications. Mixing pain killers with other prescription drugs can be fatal.

2. SSRI Anti Depressants

It was reported that researchers, exploring how SSRI antidepressants work in the brain, were surprised to find that taking common pain killers reduced their effectiveness. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This is an important finding because of the fact that some people who take medications like Prozac, report that they are not helpful. So, similar to taking too much Motrin being harmful to your health, it can also interfere with your anti depressants.

Both of these findings should remind all of us that any medication, used inappropriately, can be harmful and can interfere with other medications we take.

It is always important to discuss the use of any medications with your Medical Doctor. In addition, he should know all the medications, prescription and non prescription, that you take. In the case of anti depressants, always discuss any medication with your psychiatrist before taking it. Better safe than sorry.

What do you think?

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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