Researchers Suggest That Physicians Need to Prescribe Fewer Antidepressants

A paper published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin highways suggests that physicians prescribe fewer antidepressants for less time. This suggestion is because scientists are now uncertain of their efficiency. They are also unsure of the duration and severity of their side effects.

The paper also states that clinical trials on antidepressants don’t evaluate the critical outcomes of patients. Moreover, they found that the effect of antidepressants is similar to taking placebos. Unfortunately, the drugs come with various side effects.

Antidepressants could help patients with severe depression. However, they harm patients with moderate or mild depression more than they help them.

It has become more common to prescribe antidepressants

The paper comes at a crucial time as more physicians in England are prescribing the drugs. Reports indicate that about 7.8 million people received antidepressants between 2019 and 2020. The most common type of antidepressants that doctors prescribe is serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Women are even more likely to be prescribed these drugs.

Many trials have looked into the effectiveness of antidepressants. These studies typically take about 6-12 weeks and are placebo-controlled. Unfortunately, findings show that the drugs don’t make a significant difference.

However, this has not stopped healthcare workers from recommending these drugs. Moreover, the number of children between 12 and 17 who take these drugs has doubled from 2005 to 2017. This is despite clinical trials involving teens showing even less impressive results.

In addition, most studies don’t look into the outcomes that matter most to their patients. Instead of evaluating if the patients’ social lives have improved, they look solely at the symptoms.

Side effects of antidepressants 

The adverse effects of using antidepressants are widespread. For instance, about 1 in 5 patients experience weight gain, profuse sweating, dry mouth, and drowsiness after taking SSRIs. Another 1 in 4 experience sexual difficulties, while 1 in 10 has sickness, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, twitching, muscle spasms, or restlessness.

Patients who take antidepressants for more than three years might experience even more side effects. These include mental fogginess and emotional numbness. Withdrawal symptoms include appetite changes, agitation, depression, insomnia, and anxiety. If they stop their treatment abruptly, it can interfere with their professional and social life.

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