Study: Antipsychotic Drugs May Alleviate Depression Symptoms, But...
A new study that was recently published in PLOS Medicine has found that despite the fact that antipsychotic medications have been linked to a decline in depression symptoms, there is little proof that the drugs can improve a patient’s quality of life.
Study results, which were conducted by Glen Spielmans of Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota and colleagues, may imply that doctors looking to treat depression may finally gain a better understanding of the risk-to-benefit ratio for the most commonly-used types of antipsychotic medications. Through their research, the team learned that when antipsychotic drugs were compared to placebos, patients received little to no real benefits from taking the antipsychotic drugs in terms of their overall quality of life. Researchers also learned that the drugs caused some major side effects, such as akathisia, sedation, abnormal metabolic laboratory results and weight gain.
"Taken together, our meta-analysis found evidence of (1) some improvement in clinician-assessed depressive symptoms, (2) little evidence of substantial benefit in overall well-being, and (3) abundant evidence of potential treatment-related harm," the team said. "Our comprehensive evaluation of safety and both relative and absolute efficacy provides critical insight that may be useful for clinicians attempting to thoroughly understand the risk-benefit profiles of these adjunctive treatments for major depressive disorder."
Popular antidepressant drugs used to treat depression include SSRIs like Paxil and Effexor. Both Paxil and Effexor are also known to cause serious side effects, which can include violent and suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well as birth defects in babies whose mothers take the drug while pregnant. Some of those defects include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects and oral clefts. It is for this reason that pregnant women and women of childbearing age should not begin taking Paxil or Effexor, but should try non-medicinal means of treating mild to moderate depression instead.