Antidepressants work instantly

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  • The get to work immediately to lift mood

    Antidepressants get to work immediately to lift mood, contrary to current belief, UK researchers say.

    Although patients may not notice the effects until months into the therapy, the team say they work subconsciously. The action is rapid, beginning within hours of taking the drugs, and changes negative thoughts, according to the Oxford University researchers.

    Psychiatrist Dr Catherine Harmer and her team at Oxford University closely studied the reactions of 33 depressed patients and 31 healthy controls given either an antidepressant or a dummy drug.

    The depressed patients who took the active drug showed positive improvements in three specific measures within three hours of taking them. These patients were more likely to think about themselves in a positive light, rather than dwelling on their bad points, the researchers said.

    Dr Harmer said: “We found the antidepressants target the negative thoughts before the patient is aware of any change in feeling subjectively. Over time, this will affect our mood and how we feel because we are receiving more positive information.’

    Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: ‘This research may contribute to our understanding of how our bodies respond to antidepressants, but the changes recorded can’t always be felt by patients and it can be some weeks before they begin to feel the symptoms of depression easing.’


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