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Antidepressants 'work immediately'

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Antidepressants start to work immediately even though patients may not notice the effects until months later, according to a report published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Research at Oxford University suggests that the therapeutic action rapidly begins to change negative thoughts, with subtle, positive cues adding up over time to lift the depression.

Psychiatrist Dr Catherine Harmer and her team report that patients showed positive improvements in three specific measures within three hours of taking the drug.

They were more likely to see themselves in a positive light instead of dwelling on their bad points, and were also more likely to see the positive side of others.

For example, if they encountered a bad-tempered person they no longer believed that they must have done something wrong to upset that person. However, they felt no overall improvement in mood or anxiety.

Says Dr Harmer: “We found the antidepressants target the negative thoughts before the patient is aware of any change in feeling subjectively.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • So why does nobody get better from depression by taking these tablets? This research is so simplified. Has anyone as yet actually created a blood test which shows a reduction or oversupply of seratonin? And do doctors actually test for these levels before prescribing. Drug company blah blah blah.

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  • This is an interesting finding. However, it would have been more enlightening if the Nursing Times had given more details on the research method and sampling. I wonder if the placebo effect was considered.

    A sample group consisting of individuals with middle to advanced stage dementia would probably give a more robust outcome. This is because they are less likely to be influenced by the placebo factor as most of them would not know what they were given, and would probably forget soon afterwards when told.

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  • Hi, <br/><br/>If you would like more information, you can find the full text of the study here: http://tinyurl.com/yggnbo9<br/><br/>Nursing Times

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