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Popular Antidepressants May Not Improve All Depression Symptoms

Posted Apr 24 2011 12:32pm

Even people who show a clear treatment response with antidepressant medications continue to experience symptoms like insomnia, sadness and decreased concentration, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found after analyzing data from the largest study on the treatment of depression.

“Widely used antidepressant medications, while working overall, missed these symptoms. If patients have persistent residual symptoms, these individuals have a high probability of incomplete recovery,” said Dr. Shawn McClintock, assistant professor of psychiatry and lead author of the analysis available in the April print issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

UT Southwestern researchers tracked a wide range of symptoms of depression – including sadness, suicidal thoughts, and changes in sleep patterns, appetite/weight, concentration, outlook and energy/fatigue – at the start of the trial and at the end of the antidepressant treatment course.

Dr. McClintock’s research used data from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression, or STAR*D study, the largest ever on the treatment of major depressive disorder and considered a benchmark in the field of depression research. The six-year, National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored study initially included more than 4,000 patients with major depressive disorder from clinics across the country. Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern, was co-principal investigator of STAR*D and an author on this paper that analyzed data.

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