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Why New Antidepressant Brintellix May Be a Killer

Brintellix is being marketed with implications that it’s the best antidepressent yet and that it’s exceptionally Brintellix-and-Death-Caduceussafe. What is this based on? Close examination shows the usual smoke and mirrors, and an even closer look points out disturbing indications of potentially devastating and deadly effects—with no indication that it’s better than existing SSRIs, which are known killers.

by Heidi Stevenson

One of the most devastating classes of drugs ever developed is antidepressant SSRIs, selective serotonin receptor inhibitors. Not only can they destroy your own life, but they can also turn you into a murderer. Now, the FDA has approved Brintellix, which may prove to be the worst of them all.

In a press release by pharmaceutical company Lundbeck, the developer of Brintellix[1], it’s admitted that the cause of depression is unknown. Nonetheless, they cavalierly play with brain chemistry about which they know very little. Making this particular drug potentially even worse than any other SSRI is that it doesn’t limit itself to one or two pathways in the brain. It manipulates a total of 6 receptors!

Although Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Lundbeck, the US distributors, are expecting Brintellix to become a blockbuster drug, the hyped studies that appear to demonstrate both efficacy and safety are far from the full story. In fact, some studies have shown no benefit over placebo whatsoever.[2] It’s apparent from their approval announcement that the FDA did not take studies with negative results into account. They referred to only 6 studies, which the agency states, “demonstrated that Brintellix is effective in treating depression”.[3]


SSRIs do not work as claimed. They interfere with normal brain functioning. They don’t stop depression. Instead, they stop the ability to feel emotions. They result in emotional flatness. Some people may find that beneficial, something of a time-out. But it never resolves the problems that lead to depression, and even interferes with resolution. How can anyone resolve a problem when a drug interferes with their ability to even know that it’s there?

All SSRIs do the same thing. They prevent serotonin, also called 5-HT, from being reabsorbed, as their name, selective “serotonin reuptake inhibitors”, indicates. That hasn’t turned out well. These drugs are now known to cause previously nonsuicidal people to take their own lives without warning. They have also made many people violent and are associated with almost all school shootings.

There is little reason to believe that Brintellix will be more effective than other SSRI antidepressants. In fact, the more SSRIs manage to shut down serotonin production, the more harm they do. The brain works to counter the effect. As Dr. Peter Brennan notes, it can result in permanent brain damage.[4]

In fact, the Los Angeles Time reported that Dr. Michael Thase, a Brintellix development consultant, stated:

It is different enough from the welter of SSRIs currently available that it’s not simply a ‘me too’ drug.[5]

That’s likely true, but does that  make it better?

Brintellix May Be Even Worse

Inexplicable violence, turned both inward and outward, is the result of SSRIs causing a single change to brain function. Brintellix will cause several changes! These changes involve the handling of glutamate, which is a critical amino acid that’s required for brain function and cellular metabolism. Glutamate is necessary—at proper levels, in the right places, and at the right times—for learning, remembering, thinking, and emotions. It’s also involved in energy production throughout the body.

Glutamate excites neural function. Too much glutamate can burn nerves out and too little keeps them from functioning properly. Not only does Brintellix manipulate 5-HT (serotonin), like all other SSRIs, it also manipulates glutamate in several neural receptors:

  • 5-HT1A: Agonist
  • 5-HT1B: Partial Agonist
  • 5-HT3: Antagonist
  • 5-HT1D: Antagonist
  • 5-HT7: Antagonist

Note: An agonist triggers a response from a cell. An antagonist does the opposite. It blocks a cell’s response.

Does anyone really know what the effects of this manipulation of neural transmission will be?

No. Here is what the manufacturer’s press release announcing Brintellix’s approval says about it:

The contribution of each of these activities to Brintellix’s antidepressant effect has not been established. It is considered to be the first and only compound with this combination of pharmacodynamic activity. The clinical relevance of this is unknown.

Let’s look at that again:

No one knows what relationship exists between any of these neural receptors and Brintellix’s effect.

No one knows what these manipulations of the brain will do to the body, intelligence, emotional state, sexuality, criminality, empathy, or anything else.

Nearly all the effects of Brintellix are unknown.

How Much Harm?

Like so many drugs, Brintellix is being rolled out as safe. Like others, that safety is based on a very slim thread: short term studies, which evade the risks. The existing studies produced by Lundbeck are short term, and many adverse effects take time to be seen. They’re also based on a small number of subjects. Most severe adverse effects don’t show up in such studies.

At this point, the list of adverse effects is both brief and appears to be fairly minor. Medscape[6]reports the following adverse effects, followed by the percentage who suffered it:

  • Nausea: 21-32%
  • Diarrhea: 7-10%
  • Dizziness: 6-9%
  • Dry mouth: 6-8%
  • Constipation: 3-6%
  • Vomiting: 3-6%
  • Flatulence: 1-3%
  • Pruritus: 1-3%
  • Abnormal Dreams: Less than 1-3%

These adverse effects are not as innocent as they first appear. Notice that as many as a third of the subjects suffered from nausea, and other gastrointestinal effects were not unusual. This is a red flag that there may be a dangerous adverse effect on the digestive tract that doesn’t show up quickly—not something to take lightly.

Dizziness and abnormal dreams are indicative of very serious harmful neurological effects. Pruritus is a neurologically-induced extreme urge to scratch an itch. This symptom is also indicative of neurological damage. Even at this early stage, the adverse effects point to the potential of severe and dangerous, potentially deadly, reactions.

The history of all other SSRIs, which interfere with only one specific function, has been dismal. Is there any reason to expect Brintellix to be different? The studies certainly aren’t more extensive than they’ve been with other SSRIs, so the reality is that, as usual, the people whose doctors prescribe it will be the guinea pigs.

If your doctor tries to prescribe Brintellix, perhaps the correct response should be, “Oink!”

Even Big Pharma’s faithful lapdog called the FDA has acknowledged some risk. They’re requiring a boxed warning that people younger than 24 years are at risk of developing suicidal thoughts. This, of course, is meaningless. All SSRIs carry that warning, and it certainly doesn’t seem to have reduced prescription levels!

SSRI = Killer

As the FDA admits, all SSRI drugs are known to be killers, and worse than most drugs, they can result in the deaths of people who don’t even take them! They are implicated in virtually all the school shootings. That’s a lot of carnage.

Brintellix is an SSRI. Is there any reason to believe that it will produce less harm than other SSRIs? In fact, there is every reason to suspect the opposite.

By its developer’s own admission, no one knows what effects are produced by 5 of the 6 functions Brintellix was designed to cause. But we do know that the 6th function, serotonin/5-HT reuptake inhibition, is a killer. All of the other 5 functions interfere with normal brain activity—and the manufacturer admits that no one knows what those effects will be!

 What more do you need to know?


  1. Takeda and Lundbeck announce FDA approval of Brintellix™ (vortioxetine) for treatment of adults with major depressive disorder. Lundbeck’s Brintellix press release.
  2. Antidepressant – vortioxetine. Manufacturer’s Chemist’s review of Brintellix.
  3. FDA approves new drug to treat major depressive disorder. FDA’s Brintellix approval announcement.
  4. Psychiatric drug-induced Chronic Brain Impairment (CBI): Implications for longterm treatment with psychiatric medicationInternational Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine; DOI 10.3233/JRS-2011-0542.
  5. FDA approves a new antidepressant: BrintellixLos Angeles Times.
  6. Vortioxetine Adverse Effects; Medscape Reference.
  7. Vortioxetine (Lu AA21004) hydrobromide.
  8. Glutamate.
  9. Glutamate benefit and side effects, risk and danger.
  10. Vortioxetine: A New Antidepressant Choice in the United States

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4 thoughts on “Why New Antidepressant Brintellix May Be a Killer

  1. Robin

    I was on them for about a week and a half. And four months later i have had severe anxiousness and intrusive thoughts!! I blame it on them because my doctor put me on them. I ccouldnt handle them becasue of the nausea and headaches.

  2. Jet

    As someone who suffers from severe depression, who takes SSRIs, I can say that they do not keep me from feeling emotions. They allow me to function. I am currently on Brintellix, and while it isn’t perfect, it is working.

    Depression runs in my family, and is a physical illness, not a get over thing. You would not tell a diabetic to stop taking insulin and get over it.
    If the body doesn’t produce the right chemicals, it has to be helped.

    It’s easy to say “don’t take that!” But without a better working solution, you are not doing anyone any favors by trying to take it off the market.

    PS: where us you source to say, “almost all school shootings” are associated with SSTIs? This sounds more like propaganda than fact.

    Thank you for you time.

  3. Sibyl

    Your sensationalist, ignorant, hyperbolic arguments serve as yet another example of how mental illness and its diverse facets are lumped together into just one ugly whole.
    So perhaps, before you go spouting how SSRIs interfere with normal brain functioning, why don’t you consider what a major depressive disorder brain’s functioning is. You know, the messed up chemical imbalance that causes people to kill themselves among other things. Take a look at some of the statistics available for what depression causes and consider what the effects of NOT medicating that is.

    Then there is the SSRIs can cause people, who were not suicidal, to commit suicide, line. Lovely one that. If you’ve ever know someone who has suffered from MDD and goes untreated, they can get to a place so bad that they lose all interest in doing anything. Anything. Inside they are dying, they may want to, in fact, kill themselves, but may be thinking there’s no point, lacking the motivation to do that, much like eating, bathing, cleaning their house, going to work or anything else. Then they get prescribed an anti-depressant. With their mood elevating slowly one of the things that comes up with it is their motivation to act upon their desires, hence, some people who “previously non-suicidal people to take their own lives without warning” only there was warning as far as the med goes: from their doctor, from the meds bottle, from the pamphlet, from the internet if an interested family member/friend who should be helping out were to look up the med and see what to watch for.

    And then there’s the ascertation of folks who take SSRIs can be school shooters? Wow, leap of uninformed insulting logic. I’m sure they also wore jeans. Or sneakers. Maybe they liked the same movie. Stellar bit of unbiased “reporting,” um, yeah, just so you don’t get confused, that’s total sarcasm.

    The subject of mental illness is a delicate one riddled with complexities. Each new drug that comes out in itself can be a hell for someone and a heaven for someone else. And although I do agree that the drugs need to be reviewed doing so in the manner you have chosen, demonizing not only an entire class of drugs that overall saves lives, but also demonizing the people that take them for legitimate reasons to lead productive lives in their families and communities is not a positive contribution to the conversation this country needs to be having about the state of the mental health and its treatments.

  4. Lorre Hopkins

    This is the kind of article that makes people in the natural health industry lose credibility. Instead of promoting a natural solution to depression that has documented results you instead start flailing accusations at SSRI’s without any figures or proof. You start off with:

    “One of the most devastating classes of drugs ever developed is antidepressant SSRIs, selective serotonin receptor inhibitors.”

    What is devastating is If a person does not have the proper level of brain chemicals to function properly. That is devastating to their life and those around them. But if they receive a medication that increases that chemical, it can be life changing for some. It can be the difference between being able to function or not. I have seen people in the mental hospital come in looking like a vegetable and leave alert and exited about new goals for their life. Those that need mood stabilizers are transformed fro hearing voices and being in an alternate world mentally to being brought back to their former self after the administration of the mood stabilizers. The voices and delusions are gone. In the last 30 years we have seen the introduction of medicines that are correcting or curing mental illness for millions of people. Apparently the author has had no experience with a severely mentally ill or depressed relative who needed medical intervention. This article is an insult. If you want to spout off about the benefits of St Johns Wart or SAME or vitamin therapy to help depression then that would have been a helpful article. This is a just a groundless and hurtful article.


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