Risk of Car Accidents Up With Antidepressant Use

Benzodiazepines and Z-drug use also increases odds of car accidents, but not antipsychotic use

FRIDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- There is an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) for patients taking antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or Z-drugs, according to a study published online Sept. 13 in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Chia-Ming Chang, M.D., Ph.D., from the Lin-Kou & Chang Gung University in Taiwan, and colleagues conducted a matched case-control study involving 5,183 subjects (age 18 years and older) involved in MVAs and 31,093 matched controls, identified from the claims records of outpatient service visits. The effect of four classes of psychotropic drugs (antipsychotics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and Z-drugs) on MVAs was examined.

The researchers observed an increased risk of MVAs in subjects taking antidepressants within one month, one week, or one day before a MVA occurred (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.73, 1.71, and 1.70, respectively). A similarly increased risk of MVAs was noted for individuals taking benzodiazepines (aOR: one month, 1.56; one week, 1.64; one day, 1.62) and Z-drugs (aOR: one month, 1.42; one week, 1.37; and one day, 1.34). The odds of an MVA were not increased for those taking antipsychotics. Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and Z-drugs had a significant dose effect on the risk of experiencing an MVA.

"These findings underscore that subjects taking psychotropic medications should pay increased attention to their driving performance in order to prevent the occurrence of MVAs," the authors write. "It is of importance that physicians and pharmacists provide their patients with accurate advice; choose safer, alternative treatments; and advise patients not to drive, especially while taking medications, to minimize the risk of causing MVAs under the influence of psychotropic medications."

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