Newer class of anti-depressants similarly effective, side effects differ.Today's most commonly prescribed anti-depressants are similar in effectiveness to each other but differ when it comes to possible side effects, according to an analysis released today by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,
n.pr formerly known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, this agency researches the quality of medical care and health services. .
The findings, based on a review of nearly 300 published studies of second-generation anti-depressants, show that about six in 10 adult patients get some relief from the drugs. About six in 10 also experience at least one side effect, ranging from nausea to sexual dysfunction.
Patients who don't respond to one of the drugs often try another medication within the same class. About one in four of those patients recover, according to the review. Overall, current evidence on the drugs is insufficient for clinicians to predict which medications will work best for individual patients.
Second-generation anti-depressants, which include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors Definition
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are medicines that relieve symptoms of depression.
Purpose (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), are often prescribed because first-generation antidepressants (such as tricyclic anti-depressants, or TCAs) can cause intolerable side effects and carry high risks.
"Second-generation anti-depressants provide hope for many of the millions of Americans who struggle with depression," said AHRQ AHRQ,
n.pr See Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD. "But often trying to find the right drug is trial and error, and in many cases relief is temporary or comes with serious side effects. It's clear we need more evidence to help patients and their doctors make the best choices."
Authors of the new Comparative Effectiveness Review analyzed the benefits and risks of a dozen second-generation anti-depressants: bupropion bupropion /bu·pro·pi·on/ (bu-pro´pe-on) a monocyclic compound structurally similar to amphetamine, used as the hydrochloride salt as an antidepressant and as an aid in smoking cessation. (sold as Wellbutrin), citalopram citalopram /ci·tal·o·pram/ (si-tal´o-pram)
1. an antidepressant compound used in the treatment of major depressive disorder, administered orally as the hydrobromide.
2. (Celexa), duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxami (formerly sold as Luvox), mirtazapine (Remeron), nefazodone nefazodone /ne·fa·zo·done/ (ne-fa´zo-don) an antidepressant, used as the hydrochloride salt.
n. (formerly Serzone), paroxetine paroxetine /par·ox·e·tine/ (pah-rok´se-ten) a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor used as the hydrochloride salt to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive, panic, and social anxiety disorders. (Paxil), sertraline sertraline /ser·tra·line/ (ser´trah-len) a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor used as the hydrochloride salt in the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder. (Zoloft), trazodone trazodone /tra·zo·done/ (tra´zo-don) an antidepressant, used as the hydrochloride salt to treat major depressive episodes with or without prominent anxiety. (formerly Desyrel) and venlafaxine venlafaxine /ven·la·fax·ine/ (ven?lah-fak´sen) an inhibitor of serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake that potentiates neurotransmitter activity in the central nervous system; used as the hydrochloride salt as an antidepressant and (Effexor). Many of these drugs are also sold in generic form.
The analysis, which examined only adult use of second-generation anti-depressants, drew on 293 published studies. Of those, 187 were judged to be of good or fair quality. The analysis compared the drugs' benefits and risks in the treatment of major depressive disorder Major depressive disorder
A mood disorder characterized by profound feelings of sadness or despair.
Mentioned in: Conduct Disorder
major depressive disorder , dysthymia dysthymia /dys·thy·mia/ (-thi´me-ah) dysthymic disorder.
A mood disorder characterized by despondency or mild depression. (a chronic, less-severe form of depression), and subsyndromal depression (an acute mood disorder that is less severe than major depression).
Each of the disorders can be disabling. Major depressive disorder affects more than 16% of U.S. adults at least once during a lifetime, the review noted. In 2000, the economic burden of depressive disorders was estimated to be $83.1 billion. More than 30% of these costs are for direct medical expenses, such as doctors' fees, hospital bills and medications.
The new analysis, produced by AHRQ's Effective Health Care program, was completed by the Agency's RTI International-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center. Evidence reviewed by the authors suggests:
* In general, the various second-generation antidepressants have similar rates of effectiveness. In controlled studies, about 38% of patients saw no improvement and 54% had only partial improvement.
* According to the National Institute of Mental Health's Sequenced Treatment Alternative to Relieve Depression (STAR-D) trial, a substantial number (between about 25% and 33%) of patients will improve with the addition or substitution of a different drug.
* On average, 61% of patients taking second-generation anti-depressants experience at least one side effect. The most common are nausea and vomiting Nausea and Vomiting Definition
Nausea is the sensation of being about to vomit. Vomiting, or emesis, is the expelling of undigested food through the mouth. , constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache and sleeplessness.
* Venlafaxine, an SNRI, is associated with a higher incidence of nausea and vomiting than SSRIs. That drug is also more likely than SSRIs to be discontinued due to adverse events.
* Sertraline is more likely to cause diarrhea than bupropion, citalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine fluvoxamine /flu·vox·amine/ (floo-vok´sah-men) a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, used as the maleate salt to relieve the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. , mirtazapine, nefazodone, paroxetine or venlafaxine. Mirtazapine leads to higher weight gains than fluoxetine, paroxetine, venlafaxine or trazodone. Trazodone is associated with higher rates of sleeplessness than bupropion, fluoxetine, mirtazapine, paroxetine or venlafaxine.
* Paroxetine and venlafaxine have the highest rates of discontinuation. Fluoxetine has the lowest.
* Second-generation anti-depressants work at different rates. Seven studies funded by the maker of mirtazapine showed that the drug works faster than citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine or sertraline.
* Bupropion is less likely to cause sexual dysfunction than fluoxetine, paroxetine or sertaline. Paroxetine has higher rates of sexual dysfunction than fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, nefazodone or sertraline.
"As with all medications, second-generation antidepressants should be used after careful consideration of benefits and risks," Dr. Clancy said. "It's up to clinicians and patients to work closely together so the best possible results are achieved."
The report, "Comparative Effectiveness of Second-Generation Anti-depressants in the Pharmacologic Treatment of Adult Depression," is the newest analysis from AHRQ's Effective Health Care program. Information on the program, including full reports, can be found at http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/