shift the mood on antidepressants
February 13, 2002
professional body for psychiatrists has conceded that antidepressant
pills such as Prozac may only have a 50% success rate in treating
Royal College of Psychiatrists, which represents around 10,000
psychiatrists, has withdrawn previous advice that said "six
or seven in every 10 depressed people will get better on antidepressants".
on the most recent research, new draft advice seen by SocietyGuardian.co.uk
says that between only 50% and 65% "will be much improved"
if they take antidepressants.
the first time, the new advice also concedes that herbal remedies
made from the flower St Johns wort are "about as effective
as antidepressants in milder depression".
latest research, which the RCP stresses has not yet been finalised,
is expected to be available next month.
college's old advice said that antidepressants are not addictive.
"There is no evidence that antidepressant drugs caused dependence
syndromes," it said.
new study acknowledges that there is a debate on the subject and
points out that "up to a third of people experience withdrawal".
says withdrawal "seems to be greatest" with Seroxat,
the biggest selling antidepressant in the UK which, like Prozac,
works by boosting the levels of the brain chemical serotonin.
symptoms included nausea, flue like symptoms, anxiety and sweating.
the last few years, prescriptions for antidepressants have more
than doubled in England, from 9m in 1991 to 22m in 2000, due largely
to the increase of drugs such as Seroxat and Prozac, known technically
as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs.
of the reasons for this sharp uptake was the view that SSRI were
effective and relatively problem free, a view brought into question
by the RCP's new advice.
study comes after a report by Health Which? claiming that official
advice on antidepressants was misleading.
Which? also pointed out that recent research suggests a link between
suicide and SSRI.
draft RCP guidelines claim that "suicidal thoughts will pass
once the depression starts to lift".