According to a recently published study in PLoS, antidepressants do not improve health-related quality of life (HRQoL) over time. Researchers examined the effect of antidepressants on HRQoL for patients with depression by comparing patient-reported HRQoL of those who did not take any prescription medication with those who did.
HRQoL is a measurement of physical, mental, emotional, and social function to determine the extent to which depression impacts personal life fulfillment. The researchers conducted a comparative cohort, secondary database analysis using data from the 2005-2015 United States’ Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS) which tracks health services used by Americans. Data analysis ultimately suggested there is no discernable link between taking antidepressants and reporting a better quality of life and general wellbeing. But how can this be?
Roughly 17.5 million adult patients were diagnosed with depression each year during the course of the study. Data revealed that after two years, 57.6% of these received treatment with antidepressant medications. Most patients were female (67.9%), and more women than men received antidepressant medications (60.5% of females vs. 51.5% of males). Over two years there was no statistically significant difference for those taking antidepressant medication from those not taking the drugs.
Depression can significantly impact the quality of life and general well-being, so it is critical to find effective treatments for this mood disorder. More long-term studies are needed to evaluate the role of cognitive and behavioral interventions in managing depression symptoms. Researcher Hanna Abdalllah emphasized the importance of following a medication plan is critical for patients with moderate to extreme depression. Abdallah explains that “Although we still need our patients with depression to continue using their antidepressant medications, long-term studies evaluating the actual impact for pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on these patients’ quality of life is needed.” Future research studies will determine the impact of antidepressant medication and counseling therapy in managing depression.