People taking anti-depressants need better information on side effects

Mind calls for more information to be given to people considering taking anti-depressants

Published on 21st August 2017

People taking anti-depressants are ill-informed about their side effects, a mental health charity has warned.

A survey by Mind found that less than half of people prescribed anti-depressants were informed about the possible side effects of their medication by the health professional prescribing it to them.

Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, said: “More people are taking antidepressants than ever before and, while they can be effective in managing depression, the side effects can have a big impact on people’s quality of life. Anyone being prescribed antidepressants should be made aware of the possible side effects they might experience so that they can weigh up the potential benefit against any negative impact on their health or other aspects of their lives. They should also have their treatment reviewed regularly so that any problems can be identified and alternative treatments considered if appropriate.

“We would also welcome more research into the impact of antidepressants and other drugs on the whole person, so that the decision to take them can be even better informed,” he added.

According to recent figures, the NHS dispensed a record number of antidepressants last year, the majority of which are prescribed by GPs or nurses working in GP practices.

The research, based on a survey of over 1,000 people taking antidepressants, reveals that almost two-thirds of people taking antidepressants feel the medication affects at least one of five key areas of their lives: their sex life; work or study; social life; close relationships; and independence.

Mind is calling for better training for GPs in mental health and has also produced a guide for people taking or thinking of taking antidepressants.

Professor John Read of the University of East London, who conducted the analysis of Mind’s research, commented: “Studies usually focus on the biological side effects of these drugs but it seems other aspects of people’s lives can be equally effected. People taking antidepressants need to be warned about these effects, which can be very upsetting, especially in people who are already experiencing depression.

“It is also concerning that over half of people on antidepressants in this survey were also on one or more other psychiatric drugs. This polypharmacy, or ‘cocktail’ approach to prescribing is on the increase, but it is not an evidence-based approach and clearly causes more adverse effects.”

The research paper is available to view for free until the end of August 2017: READ, J., GEE, A., DIGGLE, J., BUTLER, H. (2017). The interpersonal adverse effects reported by 1,008 users of antidepressants; and the incremental impact of polypharmacy. Psychiatry Research.


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