Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Medical Experts in Mood Swing on Tablet; Service Honours Kroese

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Medical Experts in Mood Swing on Tablet; Service Honours Kroese

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Chief Reporter

MEDICAL experts in the North East are questioning the effectiveness of a depression-beating drug.

Pioneering research by mood disorder specialists at Newcastle University has questioned the effectiveness of metyrapone, a drug suggested to treat depression.

It is well recognised that stress can lead to an episode of depressive illness and some patients have raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in their body as an indication of the mental health condition.

Now the largest study of its kind has shown that a drug that blocks production of stress hormone does not routinely help in treating depression.

The findings have been published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

The study examined the effect of metyrapone - a drug which blocks the production of cortisol - in patients that had not responded to at least two conventional anti-depressant drugs.

Findings reveal that common use of anti-cortisol drugs is ineffective for patients who have not responded to traditional treatments and there is a need to carry on searching for better treatment options to deal with the condition.

Dr Hamish McAllister-Williams, reader in Clinical Psychopharmacology, was one of the leads of the three-year study that was spearheaded by Newcastle Academic Health Partners.

He said: "Our research has shown that in the population of depressed patients studied, metyrapone is inadequate and therefore should not be routinely recommended as an option for treatment-resistant depression.

"We can't rule out, however, that there might be some patients with particularly high levels of cortisol who might be helped by anti-cortisol treatment - but this needs to be specifically tested in a clinical trial."

Depression is a common mental health problem and people with the condition can experience intense anxiety, along with feeling of hopelessness and self-loathing.

One in 10 people will be affected by depression in their lifetime.

Experts from the Northern Centre for Mood Disorders at Newcastle University and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust joined forces with colleagues from the University of Manchester, Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, to carry out the research.

A total of 165 depressed patients, being treated by GPs or psychiatrists from sites in Northern England, were randomly allocated to a period of treatment with either metyrapone or a placebo - a dummy tablet - in addition to their ongoing conventional anti-depressants. Dr McAllister-Williams said: "While stress may well play a role in the development of depression in some individuals, using a drug to decrease the potential negative effects of stress hormones in those whose depression has not responded to conventional anti-depressants does not work. …

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