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Study proves effectiveness of antidepressants

Wednesday 28th February 2018
Despite much debate, antidepressants have been proven to be effective at treating depression in a major new study. Image: fizkes via iStock
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There has been much debate over the years about whether or not antidepressants are actually effective for people suffering from depression, but a major new study has set the record straight.

Conducted by doctors from the University of Oxford, the research involved the analysis of 522 trials including data relating to a total of 116,477 individuals, who were taking different types of antidepressants for their mental health.

In 2016, 64.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants were handed out in the UK, up from 31 million ten years earlier. Yet despite their increased use, some have speculated that this medication is no more effective than placebo.

However, this new analysis proved the effectiveness of 21 varieties of antidepressants when compared to placebo, but the benefits of these drugs were found to differ. Some of the drugs were deemed to be a third more effective at reducing symptoms of depression than placebo, while others were found to be more than twice as effective.

Speaking to BBC News, lead study author Dr Andrea Cipriani explained: "This study is the final answer to a longstanding controversy about whether antidepressants work for depression.

"We found the most commonly prescribed antidepressants work for moderate to severe depression and I think this is very good news for patients and clinicians."

The top five most effective forms of antidepressant were found to be agomelatine, amitriptyline, escitalopram, mirtazapine and paroxetine, while fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, reboxetine and trazodone came in at the other end of the scale as the least effective.

Researchers hope that their findings will help to inform doctors and mental health support workers when they are deciding on the most appropriate medication for their patients who are struggling with depression.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has welcomed the findings of the study, stating that it "finally puts to bed the controversy on antidepressants".

Written by Angela Newbury

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