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Br J Psychiatry. 2008 Oct;193(4):327-31. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.043430.

Psychiatric outcomes 10 years after treatment with antidepressants or anxiolytics.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.



Antidepressants and anxiolytics have demonstrated short-term efficacy; however, little is known about the long-term effectiveness of these drugs.


To investigate long-term psychiatric outcomes following antidepressant and/or anxiolytic use during an episode of mental disorder in mid-life.


Members of the 1946 British birth cohort were assessed for symptoms of depression and anxiety at age 43. Among 157 with mental disorder, those using antidepressants and/or anxiolytics were compared with those not using medications on psychiatric outcomes at age 53.


Use of antidepressants or anxiolytics was associated with a lower prevalence of mental disorder at age 53 (odds ratio (OR)=0.3, 95% CI 0.1-1.0) after adjustment for eight variables in a propensity-for-treatment analysis. Only 24% of those being treated with medications at age 43 were still using them at 53.


Use of antidepressants or anxiolytics during an episode of mental disorder may have long-term beneficial effects on mental health. This may be because of a demonstrated willingness to seek help rather than long-term maintenance therapy.

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