Antidepressant medications are well-known and widely used. And now, new research suggests that they aren’t effective.
At least in some regard.
Researchers found that the millions of Americans taking antidepressant medication to treat their low moods experience little improvements in their quality of life.
That means that it did not seem to matter whether a patient used antidepressants or did not in terms of life quality. The researchers said they were surprised by the findings.
Quality of life, of course, is just one measurement used to assess health outcomes, so it does not mean that these medications are truly ineffective at treating all depressive symptoms. However, it does suggest that relying strictly on these medications may not produce the desired outcome.
From a health standpoint, “quality of life” refers to the patient’s ability to take part in and enjoy normal life activities. Most suffering from depression likely expect that taking antidepressant medications will restore their quality of life.
But researchers learned that when these medications were taken for at least two years, there was no greater benefit to physical or mental quality of life than for people who didn’t take them.
Some experts even suggest that antidepressants are only nominally effective, even in the short term, and that perceived benefits may be attributable to the placebo effect.
Researchers analyzed a large pool of patients who participated in an annual health survey conducted by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics between 2005 and 2015.
The surveys looked at physical issues like overall function, physical limitations, pain, energy, and fatigue. It also looked at mental health, like the ability to socialize, limitations caused by emotional trouble, psychological distress, and overall well-being.
The study was in PLOS ONE.
The results suggest that antidepressants may only be a small part of treatment to help improve mood and depressive symptoms. Working with a therapist and other experts is likely required to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.