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Patients need to be more aware of potential side effects of antidepressants

Friday 25th August 2017
Mind is calling for greater awareness of antidepressant side effects for mental health patients in the UK. Image: Brent_Davis via iStock
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Mental health experts are calling for more support to be given to patients who are prescribed antidepressants to help them navigate the unexpected side effects that are sometimes associated with this type of medication.

According to new research from the mental health charity Mind, six in ten people who have been prescribed medication to ease depression symptoms feel that the drugs have an adverse effect on at least one area of their lives.

Statistics show that a record number of antidepressants were prescribed in the UK last year, meaning a growing number of people could be at risk of unwelcome side effects unless awareness increases.

Some reported an impact on their sex life due to a loss of libido, while others felt unable to socialise as much or enjoy close relationships while taking antidepressants. Meanwhile, others said their jobs, studies or independence were affected.

What's more, Mind found that almost half (48 per cent) of individuals prescribed antidepressants did not feel they had been informed of the potential side effects associated with their medication. If they had been aware of the possible impact on their lives, some may have been less reluctant to accept the prescription.

For people who do experience adverse side effects as a result of antidepressants, there is a risk that their mental health could decline further, as they may be left feeling frustrated about the impact the drugs are having on their lives.

Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, commented: "Anyone being prescribed antidepressants should be made aware of the possible side effects they might experience, so they can weigh up the potential benefit against any negative impact on their health or other aspects of their lives.

"They should also have their treatment reviewed regularly, so that any problems can be identified and alternative treatments considered if appropriate."

Mind has created a new guide for GPs and mental health support workers th place them in a better position to educate patients about these side effects. This will ensure more patients are given the best treatment plans for their individual needs.

Written by Angela Newbury

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