Medical

Antidepressants are effective in treating mental health, major study finds

Antidepressants are effective in treating mental health, major study finds

A vast research study which sought to settle a long-standing debate about whether or not antidepressant drugs work has found they are indeed effective in relieving depression.

"Antidepressants are routinely used worldwide yet there remains considerable debate about their effectiveness and tolerability", said John Ioannidis of Stanford University in the United States, who worked on a team of researchers led by Andrea Cipriani of Britain's Oxford University.

Antidepressants have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (and comparable regulatory agencies in other countries) and prescribed by medical professionals for decades.

The global study - an analysis pooling results of 522 trials covering 21 commonly-used antidepressants and nearly 120,000 patients - found that all such drugs were more effective than placebos. Primary outcomes were efficacy and acceptability of treatment.

A landmark study has found that antidepressants are effective and more people should take them.

With more than 350 million people experiencing depression worldwide, many people turn to prescription drugs and anti-depressants to better manage their condition.

Of course, if one drug were always more effective than the others, then we wouldn't need so many antidepressants-doctors could simply prescribe the best one to all patients. The meta-analysis includes data on 116,477 patients total, from double-blind, randomized controlled trials published between 1979 and 2016. The least effective were fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, reboxetin and trazodone.

In the UK, Geddes said "it is likely that at least one million more people per year should have access to effective treatment for depression, either drugs or psychotherapy".

Antidepressants also differed in terms of acceptability, with agomelatine, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline, and vortioxetine proving most tolerable, and amitriptyline, clomipramine, duloxetine, fluvoxamine, reboxetine, trazodone, and venlafaxine being the least tolerable. "The choice will need to be made by doctor and patient".

However, she said: "This does not necessarily mean that antidepressants should always be the first line of treatment".

"Medication should always be considered alongside other options, such as psychological therapies, where these are available", Dr Cipriani added.

The trials compared 21 commonly used antidepressants with a placebo, or with other antidepressants, which were used for the acute treatment (over 8 weeks) of moderate to major depression in adults aged 18 years or older.

Although important, these results do not answer the question about the long-term effects of antidepressants, and a network meta-analysis approach can not be used on the individual patient level, Sagar V Parikh, MD, department of psychiatry, University of MI, and Sidney H Kennedy, MD, department of psychiatry, University of Toronto, wrote in an accompanying comment.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. He reports honoraria from Allergan, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lundbeck, Otsuka, Pfizer, Servier, Sunovion and Xian-Janssen.