A study has shown that antidepressants may not actually help people feel better when they are depressed.
A recent study published in the journal Plos One showed that antidepressants may not be as effective as thought. In fact, they may not work at all.
The recent study
The study was led by Omar Almohammed of King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. The study analyzed 17.5 million American adults who were diagnosed with depression more than 10 years. Approximately half of adults were taking medicationwhile the the other half was not.
According to the study, there was a slight improvement in Mental Health for both groups, whether they are on antidepressants or not.
The NHS has already started to avoid prescribing antidepressants to depressed patients because they often come with many side effects. Instead, people diagnosed with mild depression are offered group therapy sessions before taking medication.
The Saudi study made a Checkup on the study group as part of the analysis. Participants included adults in the United States who have been diagnosed with depression but have not been institutionalized. The average age of the participants was 48 years old and 67.9% of them were women.
More than half of participants were on antidepressants while 43% were not, but still had a clinical diagnosis.
Researchers checked participants’ health-related quality of life (HRQoL) score when they were first diagnosed, and a second time two years later. The HRQoL can be divided into two parts: mental health and physical health. the the average HRQoL score for a mentally and physically well adult is 90.
Participants who were on antidepressants had a 2.9% increase in their Mental Health scores with an average of 40.32 to 41.50. Their physical health scores fell 1.5% from 42.5 to 41.85.
For those who were not on antidepressantsthey had a 2.2% increase in their Mental Health scores from 42.99 to 43.92. Their physical scores fell 1.3% from 43.86 to 43.31.
What does it mean?
According to Dr Omar Almohammed, a clinical pharmacist at Saudi University, the the statistical difference between the two groups is too insignificant and suggests that antidepressants do not improve a person’s overall quality of life.
However, independent experts said the Saudi study did not take depression levels into account of each person in the different groups.
Dr Gemma Lewis, a psychiatrist at University College London, said:
In this study, people who received antidepressants had a poorer quality of life and are likely to have been more severely depressed than those who did not.
This type of bias is difficult to eliminate in a naturalistic study such as this, which does not involve an experimental design.
Clinical trials with experimental designs have shown that antidepressants improve mental health-related quality of life.
Professor Eduard Vieta, a psychiatrist at the University of Barcelona, said:
The main limitation of this article is that, as is often the case with this type of study, the confounding factor per indication.
The inability to control for the severity of depression between the two different groups is a crucial flaw and therefore we cannot learn much from these data.
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