2 anti-depressants no more effective than 1 anti-depressant research shows

Mixing two SSRI anti-depressants will not give you better results than going with one SSRI anti-depressant according to an article in MedPage Today, APA: Two Drugs No Better than One for Depression.

In a large trial sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), patients who received either of two dual-drug combinations were no more likely to achieve responses or remission at 12 or 28 weeks than those treated with a single agent, said Madhukar Trivedi, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

People taking two drugs were no more likely to see a remission of symptoms than people taking a single drug. Patients did register one kind of difference from the use of 2 drugs, but it could hardly be characterized as a positive difference.

In the current trial, Trivedi said, the only difference for patients with combination therapy was to “increase the burden of side effects.”

A person taking 1 SSRI anti-depressant is no more apt to suffer a relapse than a person taking 2 SSRI anti-depressants. The hope that 2 drugs might prove more effective than one has proven unfounded.

The federally sponsored STAR*D trial — which Trivedi helped lead — shocked many psychiatrists by showing that only about 30% of depressed patients given standard single-drug antidepressants achieved remission, and that substituting other drugs increased remission rates by progressively smaller increments.

Prescribing patients multiple drugs, or polypharmacy as it is called, is a formula that is notorious for its negative outcomes. These studies involving the coupling of anti-depressants show us that in adding anti-depressants one is not increasing positive results. Clinicians need to take note.

The lack of improvements seen in the use of 2 anti-depressants demonstrate yet another reason why more drug-free treatment options for depression need to be explored and developed. If 2 anti-depressants work no better than 1 anti-depressant, who knows how much more effective 0 anti-depressants might prove to be in the long run. If anti-depressant drugs are not the psychiatric panacea they were once taken to be, certainly it is time to look at how more people might be able to better cope without hobbling along on the crutch of a ‘happy pill’.