Antidepressants and Violent Behavior

The SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are antidepressants patterned after Prozac (fluoxetine) and include Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft. These and two other non-SSRI antidepressants, Serzone and Remeron, are widely suspected of contributing to suicidal and/or violent behaviors, especially in children. This point of view has recently been adopted by the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) somewhat more slowly than its British counterpart, the Medicines Control Agency. In England, for instance, use of Paxil in children has been banned, amidst allegations of a cover-up by the drug's manufacturer.

In the United States, use of these antidepressants for patients under 18 years has not been approved by FDA, with the exception of Prozac. This means that both the healthcare professional who prescribes or dispenses these drugs for children and adolescents and the pharmaceutical company that promotes this "off-label" (unapproved) use knowingly take a risk with the patient's safety.

SSRIs have become famous for their alleged ability to induce children to violence and suicide in such high profile cases as that of Christopher Pittman who ran away from his home in Florida to his grandparents in South Carolina at age 12. He is suspected of having killed his grandparents and burned down their house after being treated with Paxil followed by Zoloft.

SSRI antidepressants have been implicated in a number of the school shootings: Shooters alleged to be on antidepressants at the time of their attacks include:

  • 18-year old Eric Harris on Luvox who with Dylan Klebold killed 13 and wounded 22 people April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado

  • 15-year-old Kip Kinkel on Prozac killed his parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on classmates, killing two and wounding 22 others

  • 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush on antidepressants when she wounded one student at Bishop Neumann High School in Williamsport, Pa.

    18-year-old Jason Hoffman on Effexor and Celexa when he wounded one teacher and three students at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, Calif.

    Violent and suicidal behavior linked to SSRIs is not limited to adolescents. Fully one-third of all drug-related suicides since 1990 for which FDA has data are associated with Prozac use, according to Keith Altman of Fibonacci Group.

    The warning issued by FDA in a "Dear Health Care Professional" letter against use of SSRIs in children appears to indicate a major shift in national policy that will have major impact on pending lawsuits in this area.

    - John Lehmann PhD, DrugIntel Nov 11, 2003.


    Register your Lexapro Case

    If you or a loved one has been the victim of violent, destructive, or irrational behavior induced by the use of Lexapro, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a possible Lexapro class action lawsuit. Please fill in our form on the right to submit your complaint and we will have a lawyer review your case.

    At, it is our goal to keep you informed about important legal cases and settlements. We are dedicated to helping you resolve your cases and complaints.

    Justice for Everyone
  • Last updated September 12 2005

    Reader Comments

    Posted by

    My 50 year old daughter has been taking lexapro for over a year. I have watched her personally completely change to a uncontrollable angry woman. How can I convince her to stop taking this medication before it runins her life?
    Thank you

    Posted by

    My son also got more angry and had no control over
    his action.his behavior as gotten wrong.

    Posted by

    My son dr put my son Lexapro.He has been taking it
    For awhile.He also has behavior problem that has
    Gotten worst since he started the medicine.He has no control on his action.He get angry.He doesn't hurt
    Anyone but he yells at them and it's pretty upset.

    Posted by

    My husband, who is 20, was prescribed Lexapro for anxiety. He took it approximately 2 to 3 weeks. He began to get more anxious. I called the doctor and they said to keep taking it. He did and it got worse. He began to get angry and stopped taking it. I had him committed due to violent behavior...they say nothing is wrong with him...he's still in a behavioral hospital...they claim nothing is wrong with him...he calls me and I still know something is is like it isn't even him.

    Posted by

    I was tired all the time, my body hurt, my depression worsened, I was upset all the time and I was psychiatrically hospitalized twice within 5 weeks. I was taken off the drug within a month.

    Posted by

    I started take LEXAPRO and the first couple of months it was ok, then I started having thoughts of killing myself and killing others. It was a very bad time in my life and after taking the drug for over a year I did the unthinkable, I hooked a hose to the tailpipe of my van and left it running. After 30min or so I started seeing flashes and I don't remember the rest. They say I was in the van for 7-9 hours but the heat from the muffler made a small hole and that is what saved my life. I was in the hospital for a week, then they sent me to a mental-ward! After they checked me out they put me on a higher dose of LEXAPRO! I trusted all these people and they almost killed me!!!

    Posted by

    I have had two DUI in the year after I started on Lexapro. I was 30 when I started taking lexapro and have never had any problems with the law before taking the drug. These DUI may cause me to lose my job.

    Posted by

    Soon after starting Lexapro for depression and GAD, my behavior started to change for the worse. I did not realize this immediately and continued to take Lexapro for nearly 1 year. During that year, my drinking greatly increased, leading to alcoholism. I had a couple of run-ins with the law. I also started acting without thinking. I was very impulsive and my conscience was fading. I did many things to hurt the people I loved in the past year. It has almost cost me my family. I am facing 4 months in jail. I finally realized that this could all be attributed to the Lexapro. I had changed drastically. I quit taking Lexapro over a week ago. Since, I have been able to quit drinking and feel that I have a conscience again and am in control of my impulses. I hate this drug. Now, I am experiencing withdrawal symptoms that were never described in the pamphlet I received but are very real and definitely attributed to discontinuation of Lexapro.

    Add Your Comment on This Issue

    Fields marked * are mandatory. Please read our comment guidelines before posting.


    Note: Your name will be published with your comment.

    *Email Address:

    Your email will only be used if a response is needed.

    *Your Comment:
    Request Legal Help