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Anti depression medication- what is the right thing to do?

There have been some articles lately about anti depression drugs. Further articles about mistakes in prescribing drugs and errors in 1 on 5 makes even more grim reading.

In this article we look at the studies and the practical things you can do for you or others suffering.


Use of antidepressants is on the increase.  Some 31 million prescriptions were made in 2006 and this increased to 64.7 million in 2016.

In any year one in six adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem.

Mental health problems are the second leading cause of morbidity in England. In addition people with long term physical health problems are 2-3 times more likely to suffer a mental health problem.

Suicide is the biggest killer of people aged 20-34. About 75% of those affected have no contact with mental health services.

Half of all mental health problems have been established by the age of 14, rising to 75% by age 24.

In under 16’s it is estimated 1 in 10 have a diagnosable problem.This can include conduct disorders, ADHD or depression.

It is said that 10% of adults have taken antidepressants. Studies show there is no longer the same stigma to mental health

The Studies and Outcomes

A recent study backed the long held view that prescribing anti depression medication does work. A study of 522 clinical trials looked at 22 different anti depression medications.

The study of these different papers together formed the opinion that at least 1 million people would benefit from treatment.

The reports combined confirm that in adults over 18 short-term treatment is effective using antidepressants for moderate to severe depression. This was tested for the period of 8 weeks after prescription. Longer term and other issues were not addressed in the reports.

The report was digested by the BBC here


A list of the medications which were thought to be effective were.

  • Amitriptyline
  • Mirtazapine
  • Duloxetine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Paroxetine
  • Milnacipran
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Escitalopram
  • Nefazadone
  • Sertraline

Other Views

Rather different views were expressed in this BBC article where Scottish under 18’s mental health measures were criticized by Professor David Healy. He suggests that studies show that Prozac (fluoxetine) has limited use. He referred to local studies which showed no improvement in under 18’s prescribed fluoxetine. His views have been criticized and  the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) pointed out that:-

  1. Any decision to prescribe is made by the doctor and the patient and;
  2. Antidepressants are closely studied and monitored and that;
  3. If studies showed they were harming patients then the use of them would be reviewed.

The ABPI also point out that there are limited options for children under 18 in any event. The article is here

anti depressants
anti depressants – recent stories can be confusing – don;t suffer in silence

A Broader Perspective

Public Health  England have recently published guidance raising the need for a broader approach to mental health. The report is here

The guidance talks of  combining healthcare professionals, community groups and sharing good practice. It includes some helpful information. We recommend you give it a read.

Practical points

Mental health plays an important part in your whole health.Furthermore anti depressants are not suitable for everyone.

Here is our checklist if you have worries about what you have read lately.

  1. Anti depressant medication needs to be considered along with other options.
  2. If you are currently taking antidepressant medication do not assume you need to change it.
  3. You should keep your medication under review.Speak to your G.P to discuss when and for how long you shall stay on it
  4. The use of antidepressant medication should be considered alongside other treatment.
  5. Other steps and active involvement in assessing someone’s mental health should be discussed
  6. Almost 10% of adults have taken antidepressants – if you have not taken them – there is no longer the same stigma to mental health
  7. A person with problems should not be ashamed. You should not hold back from seeing your GP.
  8. If you are struggling with mental issues health issues then the Samaritans do great work and provide great support see the link – 
  9. In conclusion – Don’t suffer in silence … do something. Here is the link to link to the ‘don’t suffer in silence’ #dsis campaign. This says says 1 in 4 suffer mental illness click here


Corries clinical negligence Director Mark Dawson commented

The different articles about anti depression medication can be confusing. It is already a difficult area for patients and sufferers to deal with. However no one should ever be discouraged by what one report or another says. The latest guidance drawing together the different research is helpful. Reports with big headlines are there to be discussed – but should not affect your choice of treatment. If you need help see your G.P – don’t suffer in silence”

If you have a problem or are getting delays in getting medication then contact our specialist medical negligence team on 0800 655 6550.


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