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the antidepressant sertraline: how effective is it?

SSRI antidepressants, such as sertraline, are the most commonly prescribed forms of antidepressants in the UK. Public concern, both about how effective antidepressants are and what side-effects occur whilst taking them, have led to much controversy over these drugs. Researchers publishing in The Lancet Psychiatry have completed a UK-based placebo-controlled trial in primary care patients which found no evidence that sertraline reduced depressive symptoms within 6 weeks, but that there were significant improvements in anxiety and quality of life.

Journalists came to the Science Media Centre to hear the authors discusses issues such as:

  • Does this mean sertraline is not effective as an antidepressant?
  • How effective is sertraline at reducing anxiety symptoms and improving measures of quality of life?
  • How comparable is sertraline to other SSRI antidepressants?
  • How does this trial differ from those analysed by Cipriani et al?
  • What was found about side-effects in this study?
  • Did results differ for different levels in the severity of depression?
  • What do these findings mean for the prescription of sertraline and SSRI antidepressants in general?


Speakers included:

Dr Gemma Lewis, Senior Research Associate in Psychiatric Epidemiology, University College London (UCL)

Prof Glyn Lewis, Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry, University College London (UCL)


A Roundup of comments accompanied this briefing.

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