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a pills image cbAugust 18 2016

Patients should have more support around the use of antidepressants, the mental health charity Mind has said. In particular, patients would like to have more information about side effects so as to help them cope with the impact on relationships, work and social life.

 The call for action follows a Mind survey of over 1,000 people taking antidepressants. It found that 60% of people taking antidepressants feel the medication affects at least one of five key areas of their lives: their sex life; work or study; social life; close relationships; and independence. In addition, less than half (48%) felt they had been given enough information about side effects of their medication by the health professional prescribing it to them.

Mind is calling for GPs to have better training in mental health. It has also produced a guide for people taking or thinking of taking antidepressants.

Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, said: “More people are taking antidepressants than ever before and, while they can be effective in managing depression, the side effects can have a big impact on people’s quality of life. Anyone being prescribed antidepressants should be made aware of the possible side effects they might experience so that they can weigh up the potential benefit against any negative impact on their health or other aspects of their lives.

“They should also have their treatment reviewed regularly so that any problems can be identified and alternative treatments considered if appropriate.”

Mind would also welcome more research into the impact of antidepressants and other drugs on the whole person, “so that the decision to take them can be even better informed.”

Professor John Read of the University of East London, who conducted the analysis of Mind’s research, commented: “Studies usually focus on the biological side effects of these drugs but it seems other aspects of people’s lives can be equally effected. People taking antidepressants need to be warned about these effects, which can be very upsetting, especially in people who are already experiencing depression.

“It is also concerning that over half of people on antidepressants in this survey were also on one or more other psychiatric drugs. This polypharmacy, or ‘cocktail’ approach to prescribing is on the increase, but it is not an evidence-based approach and clearly causes more adverse effects.”

The research paper is available to view for free until the end of August 2017.

Links:
MIND announcement     
MIND antidepressants information           
J Read at al. ‘The interpersonal adverse effects reported by 1008 users of antidepressants; and the incremental impact of polypharmacy’. Psychiatry Research. October 2017. 256; 423–427     

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