Anti-depressants ‘no more effective than counselling’

Anti-depressants ‘no more effective than counselling’

New research published in the BMJ suggests that for moderate to severe depression, talking therapies can be just as effective as anti-depressants

Anti-depressants are no more effective than counselling in tackling depression, a BMJ study has found.

The research comes amid soaring levels of prescribing of the drugs, with a doubling in the numbers doled out in the last decade.

Researchers examined 11 trials which compared modern antidepressants such as Prozac with psychological approaches, usually involving cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

The study found no statistical difference between drugs and therapy when it came to their effectiveness for moderate to severe depression.

The UK now has the seventh highest prescribing rate for antidepressants in the Western world, with around four million Britons taking them each year – twice as many as a decade ago.

Mental health charities have raised concerns that the drugs are often doled out because they are cheaper and there are long waits for other help, such as counselling.

Last year a report found that one in 10 patients seeking talking therapies waits more than a year before their needs are even assessed.

Guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence says those with moderate to severe depression should be offered a combination of medication and counselling, with account taken of a patient’s preferences.

Researchers led by Danube University analysed the results of 11 randomised controlled trials, involving more than 1,500 patients.

Some were on modern antidepressants – known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – while others were having regular counselling sessions.

Overall, there was an improvement of around 45 per cent in depression scores among patients in both groups, the research found. READ MORE