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Sertraline is better at reducing anxiety than depressive symptoms

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 20 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5655
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) sertraline reduces anxiety and improves quality of life and self rated mental health in patients with depression, according to a study which suggests the drug is effective, but not in the way the researchers had expected.1

The researchers from University College London said that all previous studies on sertraline had been conducted by pharmaceutical companies and included patients with severe depression recruited from specialist mental health services. As antidepressants are now mostly prescribed in general practice to people with varying severity of symptoms, they wanted to update the current evidence to reflect that.

They found that sertraline was more effective at reducing anxiety symptoms—such as nervousness, irritability, and restlessness—with improvements showing after six weeks, while it took 12 weeks for modest changes in depressive symptoms—such as low mood—to show.

The study, published …

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