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Chantix and Depression

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Updated September 01, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Chantix and Depression
Is it true that the smoking cessation drug Chantix (varenicline) has been associated with depression and suicidal thoughts?
Answer:

Yes, it is true that there have been reports of people developing depression and suicidal thoughts while using Chantix. In fact, in 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a Public Health Advisory regarding two smoking cessation drugs, Chantix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion hydrochloride). This advisory was prompted by reports of changes in mood and behavior -- such as hostility, agitation, depression and suicidal thoughts or actions -- in people using Chantix and Zyban. The makers of these two drugs, including the generic versions, are required to include a boxed warning on their product labels to notify healthcare providers of the risk that patients may become depressed or feel suicidal while taking these drugs. They are also required to describe the risks in the medication guides that are provided to patients.

According to the FDA, one potential cause for patients developing depression and suicidal thoughts while using these drugs may be the fact that Chantix and Zyban do not contain nicotine, which causes users of these two drugs to go through symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, including depression, irritability, restlessness, anxiety and insomnia.

The FDA also suggests that the risks of smoking -- such as cancers, heart attacks, stroke, emphysema, and other breathing/lung diseases -- should be weighed against the risks of adverse effects on mood and behavior when making the decision to use Chantix and Zyban.

If you or someone that you know experiences any type of change in mood or behavior while using Chantix or Zyban, the FDA advises that you stop taking the drug immediately and contact your healthcare provider.

Source:

"Public Health Advisory: FDA Requires New Boxed Warnings for the Smoking Cessation Drugs Chantix and Zyban." U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2009. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Accessed: May 17, 2010.

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