More effective medicines with fewer side effects are in the development pipeline and better understanding of the various causes of depression is improving treatment, according to a report issued today by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).
The report highlights research into brain chemistry in depression and the interaction of brain structures involved, thus broadening the scope for development of new treatments to target new nerve receptors and produce potentially fewer side-effects. Current anti-depressants often take several weeks to take effect and much research is focused on developing medicines that work more rapidly.
Serious depression is a complex condition, with causes as much psychological and social as medical, and tackling it demands a range of approaches, including antidepressant medicines, psychological treatment, self-help, support and lifestyle changes. Target Depression states that it is becoming increasingly accepted that depression is too broad for one treatment to be effective in all cases.
“There remains a significant unmet need for medicines to treat depression and research is broadening to explore the complicated mechanisms of the disease. Fundamental work being done now will result in medicines that can hit their target more effectively in the future,” said ABPI Medical Director, Dr Richard Tiner.
“The benefits of psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, are also becoming better appreciated and medicines are most effective when placed alongside a package of care that fully takes the psychological and social elements of the condition into account.”
It is estimated that one in five people will experience depression at some point in their life and up to two million people in the UK are diagnosed with a depressive illness at any one time – making it the most prevalent of all mental health conditions. It is also under-reported and under-treated – a survey in 20001 showed that over a third of those with depression did not consult their GP and less than half were getting any kind of treatment.
Target Depression reports that the condition can be debilitating and is responsible for 110 million lost working days a year and, aside from the incalculable impact on quality of personal life, carries a significant suicide risk. It is estimated that the total cost to society of the condition in adults in England alone runs to £9 billion a year.
Target Depression has been written by well-respected health writer Dr Stephen Bartlett.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office +44 (0)207 747 1410
1Psychiatric morbidity among adults living in private households, 2000 - Office of National Statistics on behalf of Department of Health, the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales. London, HMSO, 2001, Singleton N, Bumpstead R, O’Brien M et al.