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Antidepressants, Other Psychotropics Drugs Impair Driving Ability

Filed September 14th, 2012 Laurie

Drivers who take antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, or sleeping pills may have a greater chance of being in a motor-vehicle accident, according to researchers in Taiwan.

Researchers set out to learn more about how psychotropic drugs can impair a driver’s ability to control a vehicle, as well as newer drugs used to treat insomnia. Until now, there has been little research done on the impact sleeping pills have on drivers in general.

The study, published Thursday in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, found that those taking two types of antidepressants – SSRI’s and TCA’s – faced an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. So, too, did people taking sleep aids known as Z-drugs, and benzodiazepines.

“The findings underscore that subjects taking these psychotropic medications should pay increased attention to their driving performance in order to prevent …motor vehicle accidents,” lead researcher Hui-Ju Tsai, of the National Health Research Institutes in
Zhunan, Taiwan, and co-authors concluded.

Researchers are not encouraging people to stop taking their meds. They say patients should talk to their physician, if they are concerned.

The studies also took into account age, gender, and other medical conditions and risk factors, like stress and recent relocation.

The study did not, however, take into account alcohol or illicit drug use.

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