Depression is a common and serious mental health disorder that may be observed in people at every stage of life. It is characterized by mild, moderate, and severe impairments that influence people’s ability to complete their regular tasks. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2019), approximately 17.3 million adults and 3.2 million adolescents have at least one major depressive episode, with a high prevalence among females. At this moment, there are many treatment options for patients diagnosed with depression, and the choice depends on a variety of factors, including personal characteristics, available resources, and even the professionalism of healthcare providers. In this paper, attention will be paid to pharmacology utilization, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression management.
Background and Literature Review
Treatment for psychological problems varies, depending on the disorder’s characteristics, severity level, and patient’s condition. Today, the progress of depression is evident due to the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and its burden continues falling disproportionately (Ettman et al., 2020). To diagnose depression, healthcare providers do a physical examination, complete blood tests, and perform a psychiatric evaluation to understand the reasons for the patient’s behavioral changes and health concerns. The analysis of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria cannot be ignored because it explains the signs of depression. In most cases, the patient should experience the symptoms of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, diminished interest, weight loss, sleep problems, and retardation during two weeks (Park & Zarate, 2019). Despite the awareness of the threats of this condition, about 35% of adults and 60% of adolescents with depression do not receive treatment (National Institute of Mental Health, 2019). The analysis of depression treatment options for American patients remains a central theme in current studies.
Most patients with depression rely on their care providers’ professional opinions and choose between pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches. If people want to avoid drug utilization, they are recommended psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and lifestyle or dietary changes (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2020). However, the combination of psychotherapy and drug shows more effective outcomes and the possibility to predict the development of this mental health disorder (Park & Zarate, 2019). Pharmacological steps include using SSRI, miscellaneous or tetracyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (Bhattacharjee et al., 2018). Some patients do not want to use antidepressants and try to consider other treatment options because it is not always easy to stop taking them, and drug dependence turns out to be another problem (Weir, 2020). Therefore, the evaluation of drug utilization for depression treatment has to be developed.
The main problem of the current study is the effectiveness of SSRIs in treating depression. This pharmacological approach has already been discussed, and various outcomes are observed. This drug is defined as the most frequently prescribed medication, with significant effects on serotonin activity (Bhattacharjee et al., 2018). However, patients continue avoiding using it due to associated adverse effects like indigestion, aggression, fatigue, headaches, and addiction (Weir, 2020). The question is, “Do SSRIs’ effectiveness prevail over its negative outcomes on health in patients with depression?”. In other words, the goal of this study is to analyze if people with depression should choose SSRIs and consider the expected improvements in mental health compared to non-pharmacological treatment.
After conducting the experiment with patients diagnosed with depression, the outcomes of medications should be checked. The hypothesis is “The utilization of specific medications (SSRIs) is proved to have success in treating depression and managing such symptoms as exhaustion and restlessness in patients.” The evaluation of human behaviors and emotional changes as a result of drug use is required under the control of a professional mental health care provider.
The use of drugs on people as a part of an experiment in scientific research is predetermined by many ethical and organizational aspects. In this study, a survey is conducted to gather the opinions of patients who cooperate with mental health professionals to manage their depression symptoms. The first step was to contact a local mental health clinic or private facilities and choose patients for the study. It was important to identify ten patients who use SSRIs (Prozac, Cipramil, Cipralex, or Faverin) together with psychotherapy as an experimental group. Ten patients who reject using drugs and are treated in terms of cognitive-behavioral therapy and individual counseling comprised a control group. The inclusion criteria for the experimental group were the initial stage of treatment (recently diagnosed) and no allergies to SSRIs. The inclusion criteria for the control group were no drugs being taken during the experiment and regular visits for individual meetings.
A survey contained ten rating scale questions that were posed to the participants from both groups before and after the experiment that lasted two weeks. The idea was to offer the statements and measure the well-being of the patients in the study. The participants chose from 0 (not often) to 5 (very often). Patients shared their personal observations and feelings before and after receiving different treatment options.
The duration of the experiment was two weeks, and the researchers contacted the participants two times. First, it was necessary to meet the participants before a treatment process to gather information about their initial conditions and problems. All the participants had no suicidal thoughts and expected to change and use support. The second meeting was after the intervention to observe behavioral and emotional changes in patients from both groups. The results of the experiment are presented in Table 1 (the rating scale is from 1 to 5):
|Questions||Patients treated with SSPIs |
(Rating/Number of Answer)
|Patients treated without SSPIs |
(Rating/Number of Answer)
|1. I feel restless||5/10||1/5 |
|2. I feel exhausted||5/10||1/10||5/10||3/5 |
|3. I experience sleep problems||5/2 |
|4. I feel fatigued||5/10||1/10||5/10||5/2 |
|5. I have no interest in doing something||5/8 |
|6. I have trouble concentrating||5/2 |
|7. I feel hopeless||5/4 |
|8. I do not have support||1/10||1/10||1/10||1/10|
|9. I want changes||5/10||1/10||5/10||2/8 |
|10. I have suicidal thoughts||1/10||1/10||1/10||1/10|
Table 1: Participants’ Answers
The gathered data and changes in patients who were diagnosed with depression supported the hypothesis of this study. The results showed that the participants who took SSRIs and used psychotherapy treatment had better improvements and decreased their restlessness, hopelessness, and fatigue concerns, compared to the group where cognitive-behavioral therapy only was offered. Data also proved that SSRIs had a positive impact on controlling exhaustion and sleep problems. However, it has to be admitted that cognitive-behavioral therapy was also helpful for some participants because curtained changed were observed in both groups. At the end of the experiment, the use of SSRIs was proved to have success in treating depression and managing such symptoms as exhaustion and restlessness in patients.
The results of the study did not demonstrate adverse effects related to the use of SSRIs by patients with depression. In the chosen period of time (two weeks), no addiction or physical problems (headaches or diarrhea) were observed (Weir, 2020). The reduction of many depression symptoms and behavioral disability was proved in the majority of the experimental group (Bhattacharjee et al., 2018). However, no attention was paid to the potential adverse effects of drug interactions because patients used only one prescribed drug (a specific antidepressant) (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2020). Therefore, in future research, it is recommended to enlarge the sample and focus on the peculiarities of different age groups. Instead of generalizing the results and rely on the patients’ opinions only, it is necessary to include healthcare providers and their professional observations. In general, SSRIs have to be prescribed to patients who want to control their depression symptoms and improve their well-being in a short period.
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Ettman, C. K., Abdalla, S. M., Cohen, G. H., Sampson, L., Vivier, P. M., & Galea, S. (2020). Prevalence of depression symptoms in US adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Network Open, 3(9). Web.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2019). Major depression. NIMH. Web.
Park, L. T., & Zarate Jr, C. A. (2019). Depression in the primary care setting. New England Journal of Medicine, 380(6), 559-568. Web.
Weir, K. (2020). How hard is it to stop antidepressants? American Psychological Association, 51(3). Web.