Antidepressants, anxiety meds can increase car crash risk: Study

QMI Agency


Antidepressants and anxiety meds can hamper a person's driving ability and increase their chances of getting into a car crash, a new study says.

Researchers in Taiwan were aware of the links between car crashes and the type of drugs known as benzodiazepines, like Valium, which are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. But there was less information about the use of other psychotropic drugs.

They compared drug use in two groups of people: 5,183 who'd been in car crashes between 2000 and 2009 and 31,093 matched for age, gender and time period who had no record of being in a crash.

Their conclusion, published Thursday in the British Journal of Pharmacology, is that those taking antidepressants and sleep aids known as Z-drugs had a greater risk of getting into a crash.

"Our findings underscore that people taking these psychotropic drugs should pay increased attention to their driving performance in order to prevent motor vehicle accidents," said Hui-Ju Tsai of the National Health Research Institutes in Zhunan, Taiwan.

The antidepressants featured in the study included Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. Anti-anxiety drugs included Xanax and Ativan.

The authors don't recommend people stop taking their medication, but suggest they should consult their doctor if they're concerned.

The researchers didn't find a link between car crashes and the use of antipsychotic medications, even at high doses.