Antidepressants are not associated with improved long-term quality of life

summary: In general, people who used antidepressants for long-term control of depression had no better quality of physical or mental health than those with depression who did not use prescribed medications to manage their symptoms.

source: Plus

Over time, the use of antidepressants is not associated with significantly improved health-related quality of life, compared to people with depression who do not take medication.

These are the results of a new study published this week in the journal Open Access PLUS ONE Written by Omar Muhammad of King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, and colleagues.

It is generally known that depressive disorder has a significant impact on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) for patients. While studies have shown the effectiveness of antidepressant medications in treating depressive disorder, the effect of these medications on patients’ overall health and HRQoL remains controversial.

In the new study, researchers used data from the 2005-2015 United States Medical Expenses Panel Survey (MEPS), a large longitudinal study that tracks health services used by Americans. No person with depressive disorder was identified in the MEPS files.

Over the course of the study, on average, there were 17.47 million adult patients diagnosed with depression each year with two years of follow-up, and 57.6% of them received treatment with antidepressant medication.

Antidepressant use was associated with some improvement in the mental component of the SF-12 – the survey that tracks health-related quality of life.

However, when this positive change was compared to the change in the group of people diagnosed with depressive disorder but not taking antidepressants, there was no statistically significant association of antidepressants with either physical (p = 0.9595) or mental (p = 0.6405) antidepressants. ) component of SF-12.

In other words, the change in quality of life observed among those taking antidepressants over two years was not significantly different from that seen among those not taking the medications.

Various tablets and capsules. Credit: Kristen Sandow

The study was not able to analyze any subtypes or varying severity of depression separately. The authors say that future studies should look at the use of non-pharmacological depression interventions used in combination with antidepressants.

The authors add: “Although we still need our depressed patients to continue using antidepressant medication, long-term studies are needed to assess the actual impact of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on the quality of life of these patients.

However, the role of cognitive and behavioral interventions in the long-term management of depression needs further evaluation in an effort to improve the ultimate goal of care for these patients; improve their quality of life in general.”

About this depression and psychopharmacology research news

author: Hanna Abdullah
source: Plus
Contact: Hanna Abdullah – Plus
picture: Photo credited to Kristen Sandow

original search: open access.
“Antidepressants and Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) for Patients with Depression: Analysis of the US Medical Expenditure Panel Survey” by Omar Mohamed et al. PLUS ONE

a summary

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Antidepressants and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) for depressed patients: an analysis of a US medical expenditure panel


Despite the empirical literature demonstrating the efficacy of antidepressant medications in the treatment of depressive disorder, the effect of these medications on patients’ general well-being and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) remains controversial. This study investigates the effect of antidepressant medication use on patient-reported HRQoL for depressed patients.


A comparative, secondary database analysis was performed using data from the US Medical Expenses Panel survey of patients with depression. HRQoL was measured using SF-12 and reported as summaries of physical and mental components (PCS and MCS). A group of patients who used antidepressant medication was compared with a group of patients who did not. Univariate and multivariate difference (DID) variance analyzes were used to assess the significance of the mean change difference on PC and multivariate from baseline to follow-up.


On average, 17.5 million adults were diagnosed with depressive disorder each year during the period 2005-2016. The majority were female (67.9%), and a greater proportion of them took antidepressant medication (60.5% versus 51.5% of males). Although antidepressant use was associated with some improvement in MCS, univariate DID analysis showed no significant difference between the two groups in PCS (-0.35 vs -0.34, p = 0.9595) or MCS (1.28 vs 1.13, p = 0.6405 ) . Multivariate DID analyzes ensure the robustness of these findings.


The realistic effect of antidepressant medication use does not continue to improve patients’ HRQoL over time. Future studies should not only focus on the short-term effect of pharmacological treatment but should investigate the long-term effect of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on the HRQoL of these patients.

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