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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 17:36 GMT
Anti-depressants: Your experiences
Prozac tablets
Research has cast doubt on the clinical benefit of new generation anti-depressants like Prozac and Seroxat.

Here, two BBC News website readers reflect on their experience of depression.

James in Tyne and Wear says a course of anti-depressants had a negative impact on his life. But Vincent in Reading says medication helped him get through two very bleak periods.

VINCENT, READING

My wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1996 which inevitably plunged me into what was obviously serious depression.

For the first few weeks I was disappointed with the results of the drugs - I didn't seem to feel any better. Then suddenly something clicked and I started feeling different
I felt I simply couldn't cope with the challenges that I had to face. I was surrounded by a brooding darkness.

I was offered counselling and began Buddhist meditation to try to relieve the dark feelings - but these methods were simply insufficient to deal with my severe depression. So my doctor offered me a course of anti-depressants, which I accepted.

For the first few weeks I was disappointed with the results - I didn't seem to feel any better. Then suddenly something clicked and I started feeling different.

It's hard to describe, but it was like a heavy weight being lifted from my mind. I can't say this was in any way a placebo effect - after all, there had been little effect on me for two weeks.

My meditation and talking therapy continued, but I'm sure the drugs had a significant positive effect on my condition.

My wife died six months later. But I was in a psychological position to get through this traumatic period. Months later I was able to come off the drugs.

Sadly, I was faced with another bleak period years later after I re-married. My first child died, which threw me back into a depression, reviving the dark feelings of my first episode.

Again I began taking drugs, and again it helped me get through an awful period and ultimately live a normal life again.

I believe in the scientific method, but I do worry about this research.

The researchers do note that people with severe symptoms gain more of a clear-cut benefit from taking medication. But I just fear that people who are clinically depressed will be put off from seeing their GP and taking the necessary drugs to get tackle their illness.

JAMES, TYNE AND WEAR

I was prescribed anti-depressants 10 years ago, when I lost my mother to cancer and was sitting my final exams at university. I now realise that it was the biggest mistake of my life, as I've found it impossible to come off them due to the side-effects.

I've never had a particularly 'depressive personality' and was just going through a really bad time. Ten years ago, many doctors didn't know about talking therapy but I wish I had been prescribed that instead of drugs.

I am desperate to be completely free of this drug
Overall, I think the anti-depressants have had a negative effect on me. My personality has been suppressed and my sister has told me that I'm a quieter person than I used to be.

Three years ago I tried to cut down my dosage and it was and awful experience.

I took my tablet in the morning and didn't take it in the evening. I became very agitated and angry - I couldn't sleep and suffered terrible palpitations. I lasted 12 hours before I went back to my normal dose.

I told my GP about my experiences and he wasn't that concerned. He told me that it's very hard to get off anti-depressants once you start, and have to wean yourself off gradually.

Two months ago I started to reduce my dose by cutting my tablets in half. I've managed to reduce my dosage from 75mg to 8mg a day.

Even with this small amount in my body the withdrawal makes me very ill.

I've had to take time off work to deal with the symptoms. I'm hoping to get myself off this thing completely in the next few weeks.

I am desperate to be completely free of this drug.

Having seen this latest research, I am saddened and angry. If this report is correct it means I've been prescribed a drug that may not have benefited me - but at the same it is a drug that I find almost impossible to come off.



SEE ALSO
What is the best way to treat depression?
26 Feb 08 |  Have Your Say
Q&A: Anti-depressants study
26 Feb 08 |  Health



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