Antidepressants top the list of frequently asked medicines questions: NPS

12 June 2012

More calls answered by NPS Medicines Line pharmacists relate to questions involving antidepressants than any other class of medicine.

To help people be medicinewise, NPS has launched a new online knowledge hub on depression and antidepressant medicines, which covers many of the questions asked via Medicines Line.

NPS clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that depression is second only to high blood pressure as the most common chronic problem seen by Australian GPs, and two thirds of people seeing their doctor for depression are given a prescription for antidepressants.

“Depression affects a lot of people in our community, but there are effective treatments for the condition, including both medicine and non-medicine options,” says Dr Binns.

“The use of antidepressants is continuing to rise in Australia, and calls to Medicines Line clearly show that people are being medicinewise by asking questions about what they are taking.”

People who called Medicines Line about antidepressants most often wanted to know about:

  • the potential for interactions with other medicines when they taking an antidepressant, such as possible interactions with cough and cold preparations and complementary medicines
  • what side effects they are likely to experience with antidepressants
  • whether problems they are experiencing may be related to their antidepressant medicines, and
  • safety information about using these medicines in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“Responses to antidepressants are quite individual, so what works well for one person may not for another,” says Dr Binns.

“Under guidance from their health professional, some people will need to try more than one antidepressant in order to find the one that suits them best.”

NPS also urges people not to stop taking an antidepressant without talking to their health professional.

“If you are experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor as a different antidepressant may suit you better, or there may be other strategies to reduce the side effects,” says Dr Binns.

“When you do need to stop taking antidepressants, or change to another one, consult your doctor about how to do this. With certain antidepressants, you may need to gradually reduce the dose to avoid unpleasant side effects. If this is the case, your doctor will work out a plan with you.”

The new NPS knowledge hub provides:

  • tips on finding the right treatment for you and what to do about side effects from an antidepressant
  • an A-Z listing of different antidepressant medicines with information about effectiveness, side effects, interactions, and who needs to take extra care with them (e.g. other medical conditions that increase the risk of side effects)
  • information on how to avoid side effects and symptoms when making changes, and
  • an overview of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), an effective alternative to antidepressants for some people, and a useful addition to antidepressant therapy for some others, as well as lifestyle changes and other supportive treatments that can be of benefit

To view the new NPS knowledge hub on depression and antidepressants, visit www.nps.org.au/conditions/depression.

Call Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) from anywhere in Australia. Hours of operation: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm EST (excluding NSW public holidays).

ENDS

Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests.We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.