Study Says More People Should Use Anti-Depressants

Study Says More People Should Use Anti-Depressants

Millions of prescriptions pills are popped each and every day at the behest of physicians around the world, and according to some emerging research out of Britain, another million people may be joining in.

In the largest study ever conducted, researchers from the Oxford University examined over 500 clinical trials spanning almost 40 years and 21 types of medication. Published in The Lancet, researchers noted that all medications analyzed were found to be effective, but warned that not enough people are being treated. [1]

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Currently, around 10% of Britain’s population is on some form of antidepressant. However, according to the findings from the study, researchers suggest that millions more should be prescribed medication as they believe only one in six people are receiving adequate treatment for depression.

Lead researcher of the coalition, Dr. Andrea Cipriani, said:

“Antidepressants are an effective tool for depression. To under-treat depression is a huge problem we need to be aware of. Not the right people are getting access.”

Finding From the Study

In the largest ever review conducted by Oxford University, the team of researchers examined 522 double-blind, randomized controlled trials, including ones with previously unpublished results. Researchers compared a total of 21 different types of antidepressants against each other and placebo.

While all were found to be effective, researchers were surprised to learn that the more commonly prescribed pills (fluoxetine, a.k.a. Prozac), were found to be the least effective in treating symptoms of depression. Researchers found that the more effective antidepressants were:

  • Agomelatine
  • Amitriptyline
  • Escitalopram
  • Mirtazapine
  • Paroxetine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Vortioxetine

Researches considered treatments “effective if at least 50% of the patients given a particular treatment showed improvement over two months time. However, antidepressants did not improve symptoms in about 40% of 120,000+ people analyzed in the review, leading Dr. Cipriani to state that while antidepressant can be effective, “this does not necessarily mean antidepressants should always be the first line of treatment.” [2]

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the U.K.’s Royal College of GPs, issued a statement expressing concern about the “stigma” with taking antidepressants, saying:

“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….Although antidepressants are of proven benefit—as this study shows no doctor wants their patients to become reliant on medication.” [3]

Doctors cautioned that while antidepressants are effective, the biggest challenge is those individuals that give up treatment too soon. Approximately 80% of antidepressant users stop using the pills within one month, when it can take up to two months for effects to become apparent.

Takeaway

Depression is an unfortunate condition that affects millions every day. It’s more than simply feeling sad or alone from time to time, and cause severe grief and pain for the individual as well as their family and friends.

Do you agree with the researcher's analysis in that more people should be treated with antidepressants? Should talking therapies be explored first before resorting to pills?

Leave a comment down below with your thoughts.

References
1) Cipriani A, Furukawa TA, Salanti G, et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Lancet. February 2018. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32802-7.
2) "The Most Comprehensive Study Ever Has Found Antidepressants Really Work." Newsweek, www.newsweek.com/antidepressants-major-depressive-disorder-study-815415.
3) "Research Should Reassure Patients, and GPs, That Antidepressants Are Effective, Says College." Royal College of General Practitioners | RCGP, www.rcgp.org.uk/news/2018/february/research-should-reassure-patients-and-gps-that-antidepressants-are-effective-says-college.aspx.
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