Modafinil with antidepressants improves response


Taking the drug modafinil, typically used to treat sleep disorders, in combination with antidepressants reduces the severity of depression more effectively than taking antidepressants alone.

A third of depressed patients do not respond to treatments

About a third of depressed patients receive little or no benefit from taking antidepressant prescription medications even when used in combination with talk therapy. For those who do respond to treatment, residual sptoms such as fatigue and disrupted sleep present risk factors for relapse. These patients in particular may be the ones who would benefit the most from the modafinil combination.

Modafinil works in a number of different ways

“Modafinil has actions on a number of neurotransmitter systems. This may explain why adding it to traditional antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, has beneficial effects on the symptoms experienced by depressed patients,” explained Professor Barbara Sahakian from the University of Cambridge.

Important addition to effective treatment options

“This is good news for individuals struggling to fight depression,” noted Professor Cynthia Fu from University of East London. “Depression affects all aspects of life, leading to occupational and social disability at varying levels. It is particularly important that people receive effective treatment as the residual symptoms – e.g. fatigue, lack of concentration, etc. – persist and have a negative impact in people’s lives.”

Improved symptoms, sleep and ability to focus

The study reviewed data from 568 patients with unipolar depression and 342 patients with bipolar depression. Modafinil as an add-on treatment improved the severity of depression as well as remission rates. It may also improve the ability to work. Depression is a major cause of absenteeism around the world.

Depression is a major, global health problem estimated to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide by 2020 according to the World Health Organization.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry


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