Antidepressants Work On Treating Major Depression, New Study Says

Their study which examined 120,000 people in more than 500 trials across three decades concluded emphatically that antidepressants do work

"Our study brings together the best available evidence to inform and guide doctors and patients in their treatment decisions", said research head, Dr Andrea Cipriani, University of Oxford and the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre.

The study also evaluated acceptability of antidepressants by analyzing the proportion of people who stopped participating before eight weeks.

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. Only around 60% of people prescribed depression medication improve, Cipriani said. That said, some drugs were found to be more effective than others.

Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of Global Positioning System, said taking antidepressants was frequently portrayed as a negative thing "but this in itself can add to the unfortunate stigma that sometimes exists around people with mental health conditions".

Their study, which examined 120,000 people in more than 500 trials across three decades, concluded emphatically that antidepressants do work.

Each of the medicines performed significantly better than a placebo - some by more than others.

John Geddes, professor of epidemiological psychiatry at Oxford University, who worked on the study, told the Guardian: "It is likely that at least one million more people per year should have access to effective treatment for depression, either drugs or psychotherapy".

Other treatments for depression include talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling. These might the first choice by doctors, although two drugs - venlafaxine and amitriptyline - might still be the first choice for severe cases of depression.

"Importantly, the paper analyses unpublished data held by pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the funding of studies by these companies does not influence the result, thus confirming that the clinical usefulness of these drugs is not affected by pharma-sponsored spin", she said.

Depression is a very common experience.

The study took six years to complete and included all the data, published or unpublished, the researchers could find.

"Of course, these type of studies can not look at individual differences, so can not inform us about the specific personal characteristics that make an individual more likely to respond in general, or to respond to one medication rather than another one".

The most effective drug in the trials was amitriptyline, and the least effective was Prozac, though it was the most tolerable. There are numerous different forms that work in different ways, however, they all revolve around the idea of increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and noradrenaline. It is a respiratory depressant and can cause overdose.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of Global Positioning System, said taking antidepressants was frequently portrayed as a negative thing "but this in itself can add to the unfortunate stigma that sometimes exists around people with mental health conditions".

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