In the long-run, people who use antidepressant medications may have better mental health and lower rates of depression – even years later – than people who don’t treat their depression with medications.
The study is one of the first to look at impacts of antidepressant medications in the years following their use, rather than similar studies that focus on their short-term impacts. News reports on the study said that patients who used antidepressants to help with treatment and to ease their depression symptoms had a three times lower rate of depression at a point eight years later in their lives – as compared to people with depression who avoided antidepressant medications.
However, researchers involved in the study from Canada’s National Population Health Survey said that using prescription antidepressants was likely only one factor in patients’ ability to keep depression at bay several years later. It is likely that the use of other medications and other treatments, like therapy geared toward learning new ways to solve challenges and handle stress, are also involved. It’s also important, said researchers, that people with depression don’t stop seeking treatment when their symptoms begin to improve in order to ward off a return of depression later.
There are several reasons people may avoid getting help for depression, including negative stereotypes associated with having depression or that they don’t realize they have the symptoms. It’s also a difficult topic to discuss with friends and family, and it is believed that at least half of people with a depression diagnosis do not take the next steps for help.
Experts believe a combination of both medication and therapy focused on behavioral changes is the best approach toward treating depression.