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Antidepressants Work, According to Review of More Than 500 Studies

Treating depression is complicated, and while there are a variety of “natural” treatment methods — therapy, exercise, and spending time outdoors — that work for some patients, many people turn to antidepressant medications to mange their condition. Sadly, an unrelenting stigma still surrounds the use of antidepressants — though doctors are hopeful that the results of a new UK study can change that once and for all.

The six-year study, published in The Lancet, found that despite society’s negative perceptions, antidepressants are a viable treatment for depression. Researchers analyzed more than 500 published and unpublished trials of 21 different antidepressants and their effectiveness against a placebo or a competing antidepressant. The results: Every antidepressant tested was found to be more effective than the placebo in the treatment of a “major depressive disorder” in adults.

Prozac, which is probably one of the most well-known antidepressant medications, was found to be the least effective but the best tolerated, while amitriptyline was found to be the most effective and the sixth-best tolerated. Other top performers included agomelatine (sold as Valdoxan, Melitor and Thymanax), escitalopram (Lexapro), and vortioxetine (Trintellix).

Even so, study leader Andrea Cipriani, M.D., said that while these drugs proved useful, everyone is different — and what works well for one patient won’t necessarily work for another. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression or mental health, it’s important to talk with a trusted medical professional to find a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Letting Go of the Stigma of Antidepressants

These results could be a major step forward in challenging the stigma that antidepressants are unnecessary or ineffective, according to Royal College of Psychiatrists spokeswoman Carmine Pariante. The study “finally puts to bed the controversy on antidepressants, clearly showing that these drugs do work in lifting mood and helping people with depression,” said Pariante.

We hope she’s right — and we’re also happy to see that people on Twitter are doing their best to move the conversation forward, sharing their personal experiences with antidepressants and using the hashtag #MedsWorkedForMe.

“I have depression and anxiety. Citalopram made me sleep, sertraline gave me a mega-dry mouth. But fluoxetine (prozac) makes me functional and effective, and gives me back my life force. It rules. #MedsWorkedForMe, user Holly Brockwell, who reportedly started the online movement, wrote on Twitter.

Others immediately took to the movement, adding comments like, “Depression and anxiety used to leave me incapacitated for days on end. Finally got the help I needed and my situation has improved dramatically thanks to proper medication,” and “I was so lucky to have found a medication first time round that allowed me to take that difficult first step out of bed in the morning.”

Powerful words! We hope their important message continues to spread.

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