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January 7th, 2010
Are Antidepressants Only Beneficial for the Severely Depressed?

Not all antidepressants are the same.  While some work best for people with severe depression, they may not help those with mild or moderate depression.

A new study was recently completed that tried to determine the effectiveness of an antidepressant versus a placebo in patients with severe depression. The results from six previously published studies of the effectiveness of antidepressants on 718 adults with diverse levels of depression were examined by Jay C Fournier, a psychology graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.

The main findings, reported by Fournier, was that the benefit of taking antidepressants varied due to the severity of the depression. The researchers also determined that some depressed people even respond positively to taking a placebo. However, severely depressed patients are much more likely to benefit from antidepressants.

From the six studies that Fournier and his colleagues determined their results from, three looked at paroxetine (Paxil) while the others looked at imipramine (Tofranil).

Paxil (similar to Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft) works by boosting mood by increasing the level of neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Tofranil, an older medication, works similarly by increasing neurotransmitter serotonin and norepinephrine.

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