New Lancet Study: Do Antidepressants Work?
Posted: Sunday, February 25th, 2018
In the headlines this week was an announcement about a major new study into antidepressant medication. The research, published in the UK medical journal The Lancet, looked at a range of previous studies carried out around the world and assessed the effectiveness of 21 commonly prescribed antidepressants. In most cases antidepressants worked better than a placebo. This is welcome news. For some time now there has been a great deal of criticism of antidepressants in some sections of the British media, much of it lacking balance and objectivity, and this study confirms what a lot of doctors already knew: that antidepressants work for a lot of people.
Clearly this study is generally good news but sadly it does not tell us much more about the issue of depression in schizophrenia. Although previous research has pointed heavily towards antidepressants being effective in depression in schizophrenia, this new research specifically excluded any previous study where a large proportion (20% or more) of the participants were suffering from a psychotic illness. Many people with schizophrenia will suffer from depression as well so the issue is an important one. Depression in schizophrenia can often be severely disabling and not simply prevent the person from leading an active life but at worst can also put them at risk of suicide.
Living with Schizophrenia has published two information sheets on this subject. The first: Schizophrenia and Depression, looks at how depression presents in schizophrenia and how it affects people. Usefully it also looks at some of the possible causes of depression such as despair, loneliness, stigma and the side effects of medication.
The second: What can be done about depression in schizophrenia? looks at how effective medication and talking therapies are and whether they can be used to combat the problem and also has some useful self-help tips to complement the conventional therapies.
It is clearly disappointing that this new study did not include people with schizophrenia. Depression is a serious issue for people with schizophrenia along with their carers and relatives and much more research is needed if we are to combat it effectively.<< Back to blog