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Antidepressants work - study

Thursday February 22nd, 2018

Commonly used antidepressants are genuinely effective in treating acute depression, according to the findings of a major international analysis published today.

A study of 21 drugs found that all had been shown to be more effective than placebo in a range of clinical trials.

The research, published in The Lancet, involved a meta-analysis of 522 trials with more than 11,000 patients and large amounts of unpublished data.

The study suggested that agomelatine, amitriptyline, escitalopram, mirtazapine, paroxetine, venlafaxine, and vortioxetine are the most effective treatments – and fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, reboxetine, and trazodone the least effective.

Researcher Dr Andrea Cipriani, of Oxford University, UK, said: “Our study brings together the best available evidence to inform and guide doctors and patients in their treatment decisions.

“We found that the most commonly used antidepressants are more effective than placebo, with some more effective than others. Our findings are relevant for adults experiencing a first or second episode of depression – the typical population seen in general practice.”

Dr Cipriani added: “Antidepressants can be an effective tool to treat major depression - but this does not necessarily mean that antidepressants should always be the first line of treatment.”

The findings were welcomed by the UK Royal College of GPs.

Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “Taking antidepressants is frequently portrayed as a negative thing or something done only when other therapies are not available or have failed, but this in itself can add to the unfortunate stigma that sometimes exists around people with mental health conditions.

“This research should reassure patients who are taking or are contemplating commencing antidepressants, and the doctors that prescribe them, that they are an effective treatment for depression in the short-term.”

She added: “Although antidepressants are of proven benefit - as this study shows - no doctor wants their patients to become reliant on medication so where possible, GPs will explore alternative treatments, such as talking therapies or cognitive behaviour therapy, which can be of great benefit for some patients.”

Lancet 22 February 2018 [abstract]

Tags: Mental Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News | World Health

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