Depression News (5)

Continuing the discussion from the last post, a new study has shown that anti-depressant medication (ADM) has no more benefit than a sugar pill (placebo) when depression is less than very severe (1).  What should you do if you were in that category of depression when ADM was prescribed for you and you are still taking them?

The obvious first answer is always to check with your doctor.  Second, the study looked at only two drugs (paroxetine and imipramine) and other drugs might be more effective than these.  In addition, if your depression symptoms have improved with medication and side effects are at an acceptable level, it will usually be wiser to continue the medication, at least until you have made significant progress with counseling and/or the other techniques discussed in the last post.

Another significant question is what to do about people suffering from depression who are not receiving any treatment.  Another recent study (2) used survey data from nearly 16,000 adult Americans and found that only 20% of those with depression were receiving care consistent with guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association with the lowest rates among Mexican-Americans and African-Americans.  The amount of needless suffering represented by those statistics is staggering.  A change in practice that will help address this, called Integrated Primary Care, will be the subject of future posts.

1. Fournier JC et al.  Antidepressant drug effects and depression severity: a patient-level meta-analysis.  JAMA. 303(1):47-53, 2010 Jan 6.

2. Gonzalez, HM et al. Depression Care in the United States: Too Little for Too Few.   Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(1):37-46.