More Medicine May Not Relieve Symptoms of Depression

Depression affects nearly 19 million people in the United States every year. Only half of those who are diagnosed ever receive treatment for their symptoms. The latest trend for many clinicians is to prescribe not only an initial anti-depressant, but to add a second and sometimes third line of defense immediately to combat extreme depressive symptoms. However, new research suggests that these efforts may not benefit the client. In fact, they may only cause to increase the expense to the client and elevate the risk for further side effects. Dr. Madhukar H. Trivedi, professor of psychiatry and chief of the Division of Mood Disorders at UT Southwestern and principal investigator of the study said, “Clinicians should not rush to prescribe combinations of antidepressant medications as first-line treatment for patients with major depression.”

The study, conducted by the same researchers who conducted the pre-eminent study on depression, the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression, or STAR*D, study, found that clients taking one medication responded similarly to those who were taking two different anti-depressants. At both the 12-week point and again at the seven-month mark, the results remained the same. “The clinical implications are very clear – the extra cost and burden of two medications is not worthwhile as a first treatment step,” Said Dr.Trivedi.

Although only 58 percent of clients respond at all to anti-depressants alone, the success rate is much higher for those who use medication in combination with other therapies. Depression can often manifest with debilitating symptoms that cause clients to lose time from work, lose interest in normal activities, and can interfere with social and intimate relationships. The cumulative cost of depression exceeds $83 billion annually in lost productivity, medical and mental health expenses. In a related article, Dr. Trivedi commented that in order to see improved results, more studies must be conducted to examine the biological indicators for depression.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Ronald

    Ronald

    May 4th, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    The general idea of a person under depression is being alone in a place and popping pills all the time.And to know that the medical professionals themselves are adding fuel to the fire is disappointing.

    Depression is more of a psychological thing than a physical problem.Merely talking to a friend or a change in environment can do a world of good for a depressed person.So I resound your idea of therapy for depressed individuals.

  • Rae

    Rae

    May 5th, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    Medication alone cannot fix everything. There has to be something deep within the patient that wants to get better, even if the patient is not aware of that yet. If the patient does not want to survive this then chances are the medications alone will never work and they will have a hard time regaining a sense of well being and normalcy. That is not to say that medication should be thrown out the window, because I do not believe that. I believe that for many sufferers they could have never made it without anti depressants. I am just saying that this is not the end all and be all. There are other methods that may not sound as conventional but that can be very effective when treating depression and I wish that there was more of a willingness to try them first instead of as a last resort.

  • mal

    mal

    May 5th, 2011 at 5:56 AM

    people are not machines and medicines are not their fuel.this is the basic truth that needs to be understood.

    have you ever been given a strong dose by a doctor because you need to get back to work soon?ever observed what happens after that?the relief may come quicker but there is no thorough treatment and it can often lead to side effects.

  • Gabriel

    Gabriel

    May 10th, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Of course it doesn’t. Taking six times as much won’t heal you six times faster, it will kill you six times faster more likely! Antidepressants are there to help you cope, not cure you. There are other options apart from meds!

  • Neil

    Neil

    May 11th, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    I can’t believe a doctor of all people, having sworn an oath to take care of us, would slam more medicine down a patient’s throat if they don’t have to. It’s common knowledge that too much medication is a bad thing. Make them eat their PhDs.

  • charles

    charles

    May 14th, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    You need treatment for depression, and drugs don’t count as treatment as far as I’m concerned. Treatment involves finding the cause, resolving it, and overcoming it- not just masking the symptoms so you look and feel a bit better for a while. I feel that’s all drugs do. Therapy wins hands down as a permanent and lasting solution.

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