Long-term antidepressant use not linked to better quality of life, study finds

The use of antidepressants over time does not continue to improve patients' health-related quality of life, research published on April 20 in the journal PLOS One suggests.

The researchers used data from the 2005 to 2015 United States Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a long-term study tracking health services used by Americans.

The data showed that on average, 17.5 million adults were diagnosed with depression each year between 2005 and 2016, with 57 percent of those studied prescribed antidepressant medications. The researchers compared health-related quality of life data initially collected from individual respondents to that respondent's data collected at multiple points in time over a two-year follow-up period.

The study found that patients diagnosed with depression who used antidepressants showed some improvement in mental well-being over time; however, that improvement was marginally different from the improvement shown by those diagnosed with depression who didn't take antidepressants.

The researchers noted that future studies should not only focus on the short-term effects of antidepressants, but should investigate the long-term effect of antidepressants on patients, combined with other non-pharmaceutical treatments for depression.

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