Abstract

Background

In the context of rapidly increasing antidepressant (AD) use internationally, and recent reviews raising concerns about efficacy and adverse effects, this study aimed to survey the largest sample of AD recipients to date.

Methods

An online questionnaire about experiences with, and beliefs about, antidepressants was completed by 1829 adults who had been prescribed antidepressants in the last five years (53% were first prescribed them between 2000 and 2009, and 52% reported taking them for more than three years).

Results

Eight of the 20 adverse effects studied were reported by over half the participants; most frequently Sexual Difficulties (62%) and Feeling Emotionally Numb (60%). Percentages for other effects included: Feeling Not Like Myself – 52%, Reduction In Positive Feelings – 42%, Caring Less About Others – 39%, Suicidality – 39% and Withdrawal Effects – 55%. Total Adverse Effect scores were related to younger age, lower education and income, and type of antidepressant, but not to level of depression prior to taking antidepressants.

Conclusions

The adverse effects of antidepressants may be more frequent than previously reported, and include emotional and interpersonal effects.

Adverse emotional and interpersonal effects reported by 1829 New Zealanders while taking antidepressants, by John Read, Claire Cartwright, Kerry Gibson in Psychiatry Research, 2014

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