In the life of every person events take place,which have a negative effect on the nervous system. Lack of sleep, prolonged stress, loss of loved ones, moving, job change, and other factors can lead to the development of some mental illnesses. Many experts note that the vast majority of those who seek psychological help suffer from anxiety disorders of varying severity. A strong sense of anxiety is unsettling and can lead to symptoms of depression. And depression, as you know, is treated with antidepressants. Recently, scientists have found that antidepressants do not work as they thought.
What are antidepressants for?
Antidepressants are called medicinaldrugs aimed at combating the most common disease on the planet - depression. Contrary to popular belief that depression is a purely mental illness, depression is actually a physical illness. The fact is that the brain is the most complex organ of the human body and it’s not easy to figure out how everything is arranged there.
However, today medicine has stepped forward and weWe know how depression occurs and proceeds. The causes of this disease are not completely clear, but experts say that many factors contribute to this, from a genetic predisposition to chronic stress.
Because depression is reala disease, the symptoms of which are a decreased mood and an inability to have fun (anhedonia), with depression, a malfunction occurs in the usual work of the brain. The number of neurotransmitters responsible for a good mood and ability to enjoy - serotonin and dopamine - is becoming insufficient. Studies also indicate that depression negatively affects the connectivity of white matter in the brain - nerve tissue in the form of tightly packed bundles of nerve fibers.
Admission of antidepressants, in particular from the groupSSRI selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors - restore the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing the amount of serotonin, thereby eliminating the symptoms of depression. Today, SSRI antidepressants, namely sertraline, are the most common drugs for depression in the world. However, most studies of antidepressants took place decades ago. The subjects were mainly patients with severe depression. However, today most people taking these drugs have mild or moderate depression.
How do antidepressants work?
The vast majority of antidepressants todayprescribed by doctors to patients with mild or moderate symptoms of anxiety or depression. In this case, there are frequent cases when antidepressants are prescribed without pronounced symptoms. Therefore, scientists wanted to find out how sertraline works in such cases (we are talking about the treatment of minor or moderate depression). Experts have found that the medicine does work, but not in the way they expected.
Study published in The LancetPsychiatry. The subjects were patients with symptoms of depression - from mild to severe. All patients took sertraline, regardless of the severity of depression, as the scientists wanted to find out what help this drug actually provides. The study involved more than 650 people aged 18 to 74 years. They all reported to doctors about symptoms of depression, such as poor mood, loss of pleasure, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping. Specialists randomly assigned patients to one of two groups: the first group received sertraline for 12 weeks, the second group received a placebo that looked identical to a sertraline tablet.
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Neither the researchers nor the patients knew whicha group of people includes each subject. This type of “double-blind study” helps reduce bias during the course of the study. Scientists regularly interviewed subjects about their well-being: two, six and 12 weeks after the start of treatment.
The results surprised specialists. Their theory was that the symptoms of depression when using sertraline disappear after six weeks, but scientists have not found any evidence that this is so. Any effect on the symptoms of depression occurred later and was less convincing. On the contrary, the results showed that sertraline led to a rapid decrease in anxiety symptoms and only a few weeks later reduced the severity of symptoms of depression.
Note that most patients withdepressive symptoms also suffer from anxiety disorders of varying severity. By reducing anxiety symptoms, antidepressants make people with depression feel better. Those who took the antidepressant were twice as likely to feel better than those who took the placebo. Thus, despite the fact that sertraline first of all removes anxiety, and only then depression, its administration leads to an improvement in the quality of human life.
There has long been debate over whetherantidepressants for people with minor depression. The study included people with a wide range of severity of the disease. Experts did not find evidence that the effect of the antidepressant was less in patients with mild or moderate depression. It turned out that sertraline benefits a wider group of people than previously thought.
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Study results confirmthe effectiveness of prescribing sertraline and other similar antidepressants to people with symptoms of depression and anxiety. As with any drug, the benefits should be compared with any side effects, as well as taking into account the presence of withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug.