Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Antidepressants: It Takes Months to Get Back a Feeling of Hopefulness

People taking medication for depression typically see improvement in their symptoms during the first few months, with the exception of one very important ingredient. Lagging behind other areas is a sense of hopefulness, according to new research from the University of Michigan.

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

In this particular study, feelings of hopefulness did not improve until a number of weeks, or even months, had gone by. Lead author James E. Aikens, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Michigan, says that many 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.

And as most people know, many of these antidepressants are linked to suicides as well (most notably in young people).

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

68 percent of the patient improvement occurred by the end of the first month, and 88 percent by three months. These numbers did not apply to "hopefulness," however. Here, the improvement was much more gradual, which remains a concern for doctors as their patients may require other kinds of assistance to start bringing this positive mood support back into the lives of their depressed patients.

One method of bringing this positive expectancy back is an herbal supplement, a product containing the clinically-tested plant extract SHR-5. SHR-5, the ingredient of Arctic Root®, has been tested in human clinical trials and has shown a significant mood uplift ability that doctors are now using on its own, or in combination with antidepressants, to increase the feeling of hopefulness and positive mood.


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