Antidepressants are among the most widely prescribed medications in the United States. Adverse cutaneous drug reactions (ACDRs) associated with drugs are common, with possibly higher rates associated with psychotropic medications. While the vast majority of ACDRs are benign and easily treated, serious and life-threatening ACDRs, such as those associated with antidepressants, do rarely occur. ACDRs to antidepressants are diagnosed primarily on the basis of the patient's history. A clinician who is aware of these common and potentially serious adverse events will help avoid their continuation or recurrence. There are certain characteristics that place an individual at higher risk for an ACDR such as female gender, increasing age, African-American ethnicity, use of multiple medications and presence of a serious illness. If a cutaneous reaction occurs in an outpatient setting, it is advisable to discontinue the offending antidepressant and substitute it with one from another class. Treatment of the ACDR should be symptomatic if the patient shows no other significant signs of reaction. If other signs are present, however, a dermatology consultation should be obtained. Since the diagnosis of ACDRs is often tentative, and the exanthema is likely to be benign, the physician treating a patient with a mood or anxiety disorder must weigh the risk of developing these potential problems against the possibility of relapse of the psychiatric disorder should the medication be discontinued.
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