Do antidepressants work better than placebo?

Scientists have been debating the efficacy of antidepressants for decades. The latest paper to throw its hat into the ring concludes that there is little evidence to show that they perform better than placebos.

In 2017, around 17.3 million adults in the United States experienced an episode of major depression.

Alongside talking therapies such as psychotherapy, many people with depression take antidepressants.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 2011–2014 survey found that 12.7% of U.S. individuals aged 12 or above had taken antidepressant medication in the previous month.

Full story at Medical News Today

Antidepressants show potential for postoperative pain

After a systematic review of clinical trials based on administering antidepressants for acute and chronic postsurgical pain, researchers have concluded that more trials are needed to determine whether these drugs should be prescribed for postsurgical pain on a regular basis.

Dr. Ian Gilron, a professor and director of clinical pain research in the Department of Anesthesiology, and his team of seven researchers reviewed 15 trials to determine whether the use of antidepressants for pain relief post-surgery would work more effectively than painkillers such as opioids, local anesthetics, or acetaminophen.

Clinical trials are often used to answer questions about the efficacy of the off-label uses of drugs. In the case of antidepressants, their effects on postsurgical pain continue to be an area of research interest.

Full story of antidepressants and pain at Science Daily

CDC: 6% of teens take psychotropic drugs

The debate around adolescents and psychotropic drug use may be quieted – ever so slightly – by new data.

More than 6% of adolescents reported using psychotropic medications during the past month, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Six percent is pretty much what I would expect for the prescription of psychotropic medications based on what we know about new disorders and how prevalent they would be among adolescents,” said Bruce Jonas, a mental health epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, who compiled the data.

Psychotropic medications are used to alter the mood, behavior or overall functioning of persons with certain mental health conditions.

According to the survey, which accounts for medication use between 2005-2010, adolescents were evenly split between taking antidepressants (3.2%) and drugs to address attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (3.2%), with relatively smaller numbers reporting taking drugs to treat conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

About 8% of 12-17 year olds in the United States have major depression, while about 11% of 4-17 year olds are diagnosed with ADHD, according to federal data.

Full story of teens on psychotropic drugs at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Common Gene Variants Explain 42% of Antidepressant Response

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for the treatment of depression, but many individuals do not experience symptom relief from treatment. The National Institute of Mental Health’s STAR*D study, the largest and longest study ever conducted to evaluate depression treatment, found that only approximately one-third of patients responded within their initial medication trial and approximately one-third of patients did not have an adequate clinical response after being treated with several different medications. Thus, identifying predictors of antidepressant response could help to guide the treatment of this disorder.

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry now shares progress in identifying genomic predictors of antidepressant response.

Many previous studies have searched for genetic markers that may predict antidepressant response, but have done so despite not knowing the contribution of genetic factors. Dr. Katherine Tansey of Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London and colleagues resolved to answer that question.

Full story of genes and antidepressants at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Are we over-diagnosing mental illness?

To ease the heartache of her first child’s stillbirth, Kelli Montgomery chose rigorous exercise, yoga and meditation over the antidepressants and sleeping pills that her physicians immediately suggested.

“‘You need to be on this medication or that medication.’ It was shocking to me that that was the first line of defense,” said Montgomery, 42, director of the MISS Foundation for Grieving Families in Austin, Texas. “From the time I was in the hospital to when I was seeing my general practitioner, that’s what they were insisting on.”

Her choice stemmed partly from a longtime aversion to taking prescription drugs. It was also the result of listening to a growing group of psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers from around the world who argue that depression and other normal responses to life’s toughest challenges are too often labeled as disorders — and as such, demand medicine with sometimes dangerous side effects.

Full story of over diagnosing at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education