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Wednesday, November 28, 2007 9:00 AM

HC411R - Antidepressants

Rand: This is Healthcare 411. An AHRQ review compares the effectiveness of common antidepressants and their side effects. The results - next.


Woman: Hmm, was that three pills four times a day or four pills three times a day? Do I need to wake at 2 a.m. to take one? If I missed taking the last dose should I take two doses now? Is it okay to take my vitamins with the pills?  You know, Im feeling better. Maybe I dont need these pills anymore at all.

Announcer: Play it safe, dont play around with medicine. If you have questions talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

[End PSA]

Rand: This is Healthcare 411, todays most commonly prescribed antidepressants are equally effective at treating depression, according to a recent AHRQ review, but some may have more severe side effects. Lia Hotchkiss oversaw the development of the review and explains the findings.

Hotchkiss: Most common antidepressants work the same in treating depression. About six in 10 adult patients get some relief from the first antidepressant they try.  Others need to try different drugs before they find one thats right. 

Rand: What about the side effects?

Hotchkiss: Most people taking antidepressants experience at least one side effect. The most common side effects are constipation, daytime sleepiness, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, nausea, sexual problems, shakiness, trouble sleeping, and weight gain. However, its hard to predict which drug will cause which side effect for any one person.

Rand: So how can patients assess which medication will be best for them with the least side effects?

Hotchkiss: The good news is AHRQ offers a free depression guide that explains the potential benefits and risks of common antidepressants. Finding the right drug for a patient is often a matter of trial and error.

Rand: AHRQs antidepressant guides are available online at effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/reports. To learn more about other health topics, go to www.healthcare411.org. Im Rand Gardner.  Healthcare 411 is produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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