Oct 1, 2021
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Long-term use of antidepressants reduces the likelihood of relapse of “blues”

Antidepressants are drugs that affect the level of neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine). Used to treat depression as well as anxiety disorders and phobias. If the drug is selected correctly, it relieves feelings of depression, apathy, anxiety, emotional stress, normalizes sleep and appetite. Antidepressants cannot be “prescribed” to oneself, only a doctor should do this, therefore medicines are dispensed in a pharmacy exclusively by prescription.

Scientists from University College London observed 478 patients for a year who were taking various antidepressants – citalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine or mirtazapine for a long time. Most of them (70%) had been treated for at least three years, and all participants felt well enough to stop the drug. Patients who decided to stop taking received reduced dosages of the drug for at least two months, after which only a placebo.

Over the next year, 56% of participants who stopped taking antidepressants were diagnosed with a relapse. In the group of patients who continued to take the drug, symptoms of depression returned in 39%.

However, there is an important caveat: of those who stopped taking the medicine and again faced depression, only half decided to return to treatment. According to scientists, this may indicate that after a course of treatment, the symptoms may not be so significant that patients decide to fight them with antidepressants.

“Our results confirm that long-term antidepressant treatment is indicated for many depressed patients. But we also found that the majority of the participants were able to effectively discontinue their medication by gradually tapering the dosage. In any case, people should be aware of the risk of relapse and discuss the feasibility of withdrawal with their doctor, ”the scientists said.

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