As depression symptoms improve with antidepressants, hopelessness can linger

February 18, 2008

People taking medication for depression typically see a lot of improvements in their symptoms during the first few months, but lagging behind other areas is a sense of hopefulness, according to new research from the University of Michigan Health System.

That means people with depression may still feel a sense of hopelessness even while their condition is improving, which could lead them to stop taking the medication.

For many in the study, feelings of hopefulness did not improve until several weeks, or even months, after depressive symptoms lifted, says lead author James E. Aikens, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System.

“The finding suggests that some patients may become unduly pessimistic and stop adhering to an already-helpful therapy,” he notes. This finding is troubling, he says, because hopelessness is a strong risk factor for suicide.

The study appears in the January-February issue of the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.

Aikens and his team studied 573 patients with depression from 37 practices. They were given an antidepressant, either fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) or sertraline (Zoloft). They were assessed one, three, six and nine months after the treatment began.

Overall, patients’ depression responded rapidly to medication, with 68 percent of their improvement occurring by the end of the first month, and 88 percent by three months. The patients experienced the majority of their improvement in several areas during this time period, including positive emotions, work functioning and social functioning.

Improvements in head, back and stomach pain plateaued during the first month, with little improvement thereafter. Because of that, Aikens says, physicians may want to consider additional treatments that directly target pain in depressed patients if these physicial complaints persist after the first few weeks of treatment with antidepressants.

With hopefulness, however, the improvement was much more gradual. Physicians may want to consider cognitive-behavioral strategies, such as teaching patients to identify and challenge the pessimistic thoughts that usually accompany depression, and encouraging them to engage in activities that may improve their mood, Aikens says.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: New research fails to support efficacy of desvenlafaxine for treating MDD in adolescents

Related Stories

New research fails to support efficacy of desvenlafaxine for treating MDD in adolescents

February 21, 2018
New studies in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) reported negative outcomes, failing to support the effectiveness of desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Pfizer) compared to placebo. The new research, which ...

Women who suffer with SCAD may fare better with conservative care

February 22, 2018
Patients who suffer from a type of heart attack that affects mainly younger women, called spontaneous coronary artery dissection or SCAD, may benefit most from conservative treatment, letting the body heal on its own. This ...

Whistleblowers often suffer from severe psychological problems

February 19, 2018
Whistleblowers play a very important and indispensable role in society. However the effects of blowing the whistle on whistleblowers are dramatic, according to a new empirical study of Tilburg University. About 80% report ...

Depressed rural HIV patients may benefit from therapy via phone

February 7, 2018
(HealthDay)—Telephone-administered interpersonal psychotherapy (tele-IPT) is associated with longer-term depression relief than usual care in depressed rural people living with HIV (PLHIV), according to a study published ...

Depression ups mortality risk post aortic valve replacement

February 4, 2018
(HealthDay)—The presence of depressive symptoms among older adults undergoing transcatheter (TAVR) or surgical (SAVR) aortic valve replacement increases the risk of mortality, according to research published online Jan. ...

Depression common in U.S., women hit hardest

February 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Nearly one in 10 U.S. adults has depression, and the rate is almost twice as high for women as men, health officials say.

Recommended for you

Fabric imbued with optical fibers helps fight skin diseases

February 23, 2018
A team of researchers with Texinov Medical Textiles in France has announced that their PHOS-ISTOS system, called the Fluxmedicare, is on track to be made commercially available later this year. The system consists of a piece ...

Low-calorie diet enhances intestinal regeneration after injury

February 22, 2018
Dramatic calorie restriction, diets reduced by 40 percent of a normal calorie total, have long been known to extend health span, the duration of disease-free aging, in animal studies, and even to extend life span in most ...

Artificial intelligence quickly and accurately diagnoses eye diseases and pneumonia

February 22, 2018
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, researchers at Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in China, Germany and Texas, ...

Gut microbes protect against sepsis—mouse study

February 22, 2018
Sepsis occurs when the body's response to the spread of bacteria or toxins to the bloodstream damages tissues and organs. The fight against sepsis could get a helping hand from a surprising source: gut bacteria. Researchers ...

Breakthrough could lead to better drugs to tackle diabetes and obesity

February 22, 2018
Breakthrough research at Monash University has shown how different areas of major diabetes and obesity drug targets can be 'activated', guiding future drug development and better treatment of diseases.

Fertility breakthrough: New research could extend egg health with age

February 22, 2018
Women have been told for years that if they don't have children before their mid-30s, they may not be able to. But a new study from Princeton University's Coleen Murphy has identified a drug that extends egg viability in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.