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Antidepressants Effective in Individuals with Physical Ailments

When depression is mixed with physical illnesses, the challenge in treatment can intensify. According to a new systematic review by Cochrane researchers at King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Center in the UK, antidepressants are effective in the treatment of depression in those with physical illnesses.

A recent Science Daily release focused on this study and its approach to examining the effects physical illness can have on mental health. Research in the industry indicates that more than 10 percent of patients suffering from physical diseases also suffer from depression.

Studies also suggest that doctors are less likely to prescribe antidepressants to those who are physically ill as they are unsure if they are truly helpful for such patients. Such analysis made it important to know whether antidepressants can be effective in treating people with physical illness.

The review examined 51 studies that compared antidepressants to placebos. Most studies examined included trials of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants. Of the 3,603 patients involved, many differed from stroke, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. In such individuals, antidepressants were more effective than placebos.

Lead author Lauren Rayner of King’s College London said in the Science Daily, “Although trials were small, they do seem to indicate a genuine benefit associated with antidepressants. However, patients with more severe physical illness and more severely depressed patients were not included in the trials. It is possible that those with more severe illness don’t respond so well to treatment with antidepressants. This is something that should be addressed in further studies.”

There is still hope.

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