Antidepressants May Help Avert Depression in Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Antidepressant use appears to prevent depression in patients with head and neck cancer, a large double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial has found. The study was headed by William Lydiatt, M.D., of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Nebraska. The results appear in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

“This study is important in many ways,” Michelle Riba, M.D., a former APA president, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, and a psycho-oncologist, told Psychiatric News. “It looked at a population of patients—those with head and neck cancer—in whom depression is a very prominent and serious condition. It studied a way to help patients in a preventive paradigm, using [the SSRI antidepressant] escitalopram. Furthermore, even though the  study wasn’t designed to study quality of life, patients in the escitalopram arm had an overall improved quality of life during the study and three months consecutively after the cessation of drug therapy.”

More information about how psychiatrists can help cancer patients can be found inPsychiatric News. Information about the mental health challenges that cancer patients and survivors face is presented in the new American Psychiatric Publishing book, Psycho-Oncology.

From: Psychiatric News Alert (Image: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock.com) 

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