- 39% of people taking long-term antidepressants will get relief from depression
- Meanwhile, 56% of those who stop taking the drug will suffer again.
- Antidepressants reduce depression risk, but not guaranteed, experts say
One study shows that people who quit their antidepressant medication are more likely to have it again than those who stay on them.
Researchers at University College London followed 500 depressed Britons in remission who had previously been taking citalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine or mirtazapine for a year – for at least nine months.
Those who got off their medication had a 56 percent risk of becoming clinically depressed again.
Patients who continued with their prescriptions had a 39 percent chance of recurrence.
This shows that long-term antidepressant use reduces the likelihood of suffering from depression, but it is not guaranteed, the researchers said.
One study found that patients who continued taking antidepressants were about one-fifth (17%) less likely to experience depression than those who stopped taking the drug.
The graph shows the likelihood of depression relapse for people who continued taking antidepressants (blue line) compared to those who stopped taking drugs (red line). Those who stopped taking treatment experienced a relapse sooner and were more likely to have another depressive episode overall.
Overall, 44 percent of people stop their medication without restarting, said Dr. Gemma Lewis, a psychiatric epidemiology researcher and lead author of the study.
But ‘we can’t yet identify who those people are’, she said.
There has been a ‘dramatic’ increase in people taking antidepressants, primarily driven by people taking them for a long time.
About three per cent of Britons suffer from depression in any given week, while 6.7 per cent of US adults suffer from the condition.
In England, 7.3 million people were prescribed antidepressants in 2017 (17% of the adult population) and there are currently 1.5 million people in the country who have been taking the drugs for two or more years.
But the drug has been criticized, with many patients reporting withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and dizziness upon trying to come off the pills.
The UCL study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, aimed to determine whether staying on antidepressants prevents another depression episode.
Previous studies have provided strong evidence that antidepressants reduce the risk of relapse, but these studies are out of date, only monitored participants for six months and did not provide details on those who were recruited. Gave.
That’s why doctors have poor evidence on whether to advise patients to keep taking or abstain from drugs, experts said.
Researchers examined 478 patients in England – from 150 GP practices in Bristol, London, Southampton and York – who had previously suffered depression of two or more periods, were taking antidepressants for at least nine months and off Were feeling good enough to come.
Participants were taking one of the three most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the UK – 20mg citalopram, 100mg sertraline and 20mg fluoxetine – or 30mg mirtazapine, which has been increasingly prescribed in recent years.
Some 240 patients in the group were weaned off their medication after two months of taking the lower dose.
Then they were given a placebo pill, so they didn’t know they weren’t taking the drug. Another 238 participants continued to take their antidepressants.
The following year, 56 percent (135 people) who stopped taking their medication experienced a new episode of depression.
How do antidepressants work?
It is not known exactly how antidepressants work.
It is believed that they work by increasing the levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, which are associated with mood and emotions.
While antidepressants can treat the symptoms of depression, they do not always address its causes.
Therefore they are commonly used in combination with therapy to treat more severe depression or other mental health conditions.
Research suggests that antidepressants may be helpful for people with moderate or severe depression.
Studies have shown that they are better than a placebo for people with these conditions.
They are not usually recommended for mild depression, unless other treatments, such as therapy, have helped.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that 50 to 65 percent of people treated with antidepressants for depression will see improvement, compared to 25 to 30 percent of those taking a placebo.
But of those who continued to take the pills, only 39 percent (92 people) suffered from a new bout of depression.
And those who cut the drug had worse quality of life than those who did not have depression, anxiety, and withdrawal symptoms.
However, the researchers noted that 59 percent of the discontinuation group abstained from antidepressants despite experiencing some withdrawal symptoms.
This may be because their new depressive episodes or withdrawal symptoms may not be severe enough for the person to need medication, the researchers said.
But he said it’s not clear why some people can quit antidepressants and some can’t, so further research is needed.
The findings cannot be applied to all antidepressants, as it looked at only four drugs, or to people of all ethnic backgrounds, as nearly all patients were white, they wrote in their paper.
However, the team said at a briefing today that the findings could be applied to more commonly used antidepressants.
Dr Gemma (Dr + another name would be now that we have already introduced him) Lewis said: ‘Until now we did not know if antidepressant treatment was still effective when someone has been taking them for many years.
‘We have found that staying on antidepressants…