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the facts about antidepressants

Antidepressants are a constant source of controversy. Concerns are raised that these drugs are not safe, that the side-effects are being overlooked, that they are being over-prescribed and are part of a trend of over-medicalisation. Questions are asked about giving antidepressants to children and pregnant women, and whether they even work or are used as a sticking plaster that simply masks any problems rather than treat them.

All these concerns have been the subject of many scientific papers and we have brought together four experts who have looked at the evidence on these wide-ranging issues and can offer an overview on which issues are of most concern and where improvements can most easily be made.

Come along to the Science Media Centre for this background briefing to discuss issues such as:

  • Is there robust evidence that antidepressants actually work? Are they more effective than other treatments?
  • How great are the risks of side-effects such as suicide, violence and birth defects and which groups of people should not be given antidepressants?
  • How many people are using them and are the numbers still rising? Is over-prescribing a problem and should we be concerned about how easily these drugs are handed out?
  • How quickly should people be trying to get off antidepressants? Is there evidence of people being left on them for too long?
  • Are antidepressants so much better than psychological therapies that we should be using them, or would it be better to use psychological therapies whenever possible?
  • What about the future – are antidepressants likely to be superseded or is there an updated version in the pipelines?


Speakers will include:

Prof. Guy Goodwin, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and Past President of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP)

Prof. Andrea Cipriani, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford,

Prof. Seena Fazel, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford

Prof. Glyn Lewis, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, UCL


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