Antidepressants: Are they as useful and necessary as doctors want you to believe

Antidepressants: Are they as useful and necessary as doctors want you to believe
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As world mental health day just passes us, a study conducted by prominent UK based psychiatrist is making waves.

The study suggests that the use of antidepressants among high-risk patients, who are already fighting other serious illness, can diminish their chances of having depression.

The study claims, the positive impact of the medication in some patients could be as high as 70%.

The conclusions of the study are based on an examination of 28 prior studies in the field, it was conducted by professor Saeed Farooq, at Keele University. Based on the study, remarkable improvements could be seen in stroke patients.

The study focuses on 3000 subjects who are at high risk for illnesses, like stroke, heart attack or cancer, that increases their chances of depression significantly.

Stroke patients

The study observes that stroke victims are almost twice likely to have depression than normal people.

As stoke leaves about 66% of its victims among a million survivors in the UK with a disability which is caused by decreased brain function that could result in the form of speech loss, memory loss, attention deficit etc. All this could take a toll on their mental health.

Professor Martin Dennis who is the chairman of stroke medicine at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, is not sure whether the study can really help people, as he said, “Generally, people who have had depression before get depressed. And people who get worse strokes tend to get depressed. And you can see why, because their lives become narrower and more restricted. But it’s very difficult to untangle the exact cause.”

Criticism

Professor John Read, at the University of East London, commenting on the use of antidepressants among patients without symptoms, says, ”We already prescribe antidepressants to one in six adults in the UK, and about half of those struggle when they try to come off them. We should be working to reduce the prescription rate, not inventing a spurious reason to increase it. It’s scary.”

He further added, “Because we can’t predict who’ll develop depression, you’d be prescribing these drugs to people who would never have become depressed, exposing them to quite a severe set of adverse effects for no good reason.”

Experts believe the use of antidepressants share a link with higher dementia rates as they impact the brain’s chemical messengers. These drugs can also have other side-effects including fatigue, sexual problems, insomnia as well as withdrawal issues.

Mental health during Pandemic

As the pandemic proceeds, the impact it has on all spheres of life is increasing at unprecedented levels, be it financial, social, mental or familial. It has overburdened already under stress medical system, limiting its capabilities to deal with other illnesses like mental-health.

According to data provided by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, an increase in calls for mental health support, a quarter of its patients now have to wait for about three months for their appointments in the UK.

Isolation, estrangement, financial instability are considered to be the root cause for the increase in mental health issues among people during the pandemic.