Inhibitors of serotonin (5-HT) and/or noradrenaline (NA) reuptake have been developed for pharmacological treatment of major depressive disorder. Insights in the role of 5-HT and NA in the neurological control of the lower urinary tract have also led to their application in common urological conditions such as stress urinary incontinence (SUI), nocturnal enuresis and ejaculatory disorders. The European approval of the 5-HT and NA reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) duloxetine for treatment of SUI underlines the importance of a new approach in SUI, but has also given rise to questions about the safety of antidepressants in urology. This paper reviews the safety of 5-HT and NA reuptake inhibitors in their on- and off-label use in urology. A systematic Medline search was performed for randomised controlled trials, meta-analyses and practice guidelines dealing with antidepressants in urology. The safety profiles of the drugs in the urological population were compared with data from psychiatric populations. Tricyclic antidepressants are associated with serious cardiovascular side effects. In addition, anticholinergic and antihistaminic side effects are common. Although recently questions have been raised regarding the cardiovascular safety profile of venlafaxine, most selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitors and SNRI have not been associated with serious cardiovascular effects. Their most common side effect is nausea. However, nausea tends to be mild and, importantly, transient. Patient counselling about side effects and up-titrating doses may be useful strategies for minimising discomfort and withdrawals.
Keywords: Neurotransmitter uptake inhibitors, antidepressive agents, urological diseases, sex disorders
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