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Revista Clínica de Medicina de Familia

On-line version ISSN 2386-8201Print version ISSN 1699-695X


VARELA PINON, María; POZO GALLARDO, Laura del  and  ORTIZ LOBO, Alberto. Is it time to rethink the use of antidepressants?. Rev Clin Med Fam [online]. 2016, vol.9, n.2, pp.100-107. ISSN 2386-8201.

The last 25 years have witnessed a remarkable increase in the prescription of antidepressants, so more and more people are both consuming them and doing so for a longer period of time. This situation has created a new health problem, due to the damage produced by these drugs, as well as the limited benefits they are able to provide. In fact, it is believed that their effectiveness is not better than placebo for mild and moderate depression, and it has been proved to be minimal in acute depression. The increase in their prescription might be included within a broader phenomenon of medicalization, by which vital conditions are either increasingly turned into diseases or prompted to be given a medical response. The pharmaceutical industry has used neurochemical argumentation to promote the idea that antidepressants contain selective mechanisms of action that are supposed to correct brain imbalances, which are considered to be the real cause of depression. However, this hypothesis has never been fully proved. On the contrary, there is a significant variety of studies showing that depression is an extremely complex disorder influenced by environmental and genetic factors and regulated by different biological pathways. Therefore, in order to ensure a reasonable use of antidepressants, it would be highly recommendable to put an end to this type of treatments unless clinical reasons for its maintenance are strongly justified, and always with caution to avoid a withdrawal syndrome.

Keywords : Antidepressants; Deprescribing; Effectiveness; Adverse effects; Bias.

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