‘Anti Depressants for a short-term solution, therapy for long term,’ psychotherapist says.

By Ella Thompson

As we draw closer to the dreaded ‘winter blues’ months, an increasing amount of studies on the effects of anti-depressants keep cropping up in the news headlines.

A study released earlier this year by PLOS (The Public Library of Science) claimed: “Antidepressants are not associated with improved quality of life in the long run, study finds: Among people with depression, those using antidepressants over the long term had no better physical or mental health.” ScienceDaily 2022.

To get more of a scope on this subject I spoke with psychotherapists Vicki Fergison-bridges (based in Glasgow) and Leah Earl (based in Kilmarnock) for their opinion on the findings expressed in this study.

‘I do find that when doing therapy, depression is the hardest one to help,’ miss Earl admitted. ‘I think pairing therapy with antidepressants because I don’t think antidepressants work on their own. They’re just a fix for a feeling, whereas you can’t keep taking antidepressants for the rest of your life. So therapy along with antidepressants obviously gives you coping mechanisms, and it gives you the serotonin levels that you need to make yourself feel better. But obviously you need that in the long run and you need to think of things differently. There’s no point in masking something and then not being able to come off it and then just being right back where you started. You need coping mechanisms.’

‘So as much as I do think they work, I just think they don’t work as well as the pharmaceutical companies say that they work. And I do think that you need therapy for coping mechanisms and a different perspective and outlook on your situation and on your life.’

Vicki, when asked for her thoughts on the study, took a harsher stance than Leah. ‘I would say I agree with this statement,’ she said, referring to the PLOS study dismissing anti-depressants. ‘Out of the majority of the clients I’ve seen over the last year, most of them were diagnosed with depression. The majority of them said they had no benefits from the antidepressants that they were taking. If anything, the antidepressants were causing them to have serious health impacts from side effects, and they had come to talking therapy to try to find a different way to improve their well-being.’

She went on to say: ‘Out of those people who attended therapy, I would say the majority of them left therapy in a much better state and they came in and this had nothing to do with antidepressants, and the vast majority of them stopped taking antidepressants while they were attending talking therapy.’

In order to get a statement from a pharmaceutical company to refute this study and the views expressed by it, I contacted Noumed, Brown & Burk’s Registered Office and Medical Information Contact units and flamingopharma’s media team. These are companies that distribute antidepressants or pain relief pills. Contact with MHRA (The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has also been attempted. These companies were reached out to on the 7th of October 2022 via email and telephone and are waiting for a response.

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