Monday, November 19, 2007

Antipsychotics for depression and anxiety

Major depression often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety. 85% of adults with major depression exhibit significant symptoms of anxiety and 58% of them have a diagnosable anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Anxiety on top of depression leads to more severe symptoms, decreased psychosocial functioning, a higher risk of suicide and longer-lasting depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and venlafaxine are the first-line treatments for depression and anxiety but in some cases only a partial cure is achieved meaning that symptoms can flare up again later. In these cases other medication is used - not always successfully. Antipsychotic drugs have been used for people with hard-to-treat depression and for people with bipolar disorder and anxiety and a recent Canadian trial on 58 patients has shown that these drugs can also be effective in patients with major depression and anxiety. Quetiapine worked quickly, produced a significant reduction in depression compared to a placebo and reduced feelings of guilt, suicide and tension. The most common side effect was an increase in sleepiness and lethargy. The researchers called for further, larger-scale studies of the drug in people with depression and anxiety.

McIntyre, Alexander, Gendron, Alain and McIntyre, Amanda - Quetiapine adjunct to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or venlafaxine in patients with major depression, comorbid anxiety, and residual depressive symptoms : a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study Depression and Anxiety 24(7), 484-494

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