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NEW WAYS TO TREAT DEPRESSION A team of researchers from across the South West of England has won more than two million pounds ($3.2 million) to investigate different ways of treating depression. Designed to assess a range of treatments, the trials will be led by the University of Bristol in collaboration with other universities in the region. Two of the trials are featured in this Research TV film: 1. GENPOD will compare two different types of antidepressants – SSRIs and NaRIs. Most of the current evidence suggests that there is little difference between them in their ability to alleviate depression. Nevertheless, there are clearly patients who respond to one class of compounds, but not the other. This suggests that the best treatment could be predicted by understanding the genetic reasons why people respond differently. Knowing this would allow GPs and psychiatrists to prescribe the right treatment first time round, thereby speeding recovery. Professor Glyn Lewis, head of Bristol University’s Academic Unit of Psychiatry, said of the trial: “While antidepressants are an effective treatment for depression, there is uncertainty and concern about their use, especially in those with mild depression. Depression places a huge burden on society but it is often difficult for the GP to know what form of treatment would be best. The results of this trial will help doctors to tailor treatment to the individual.” GENPOD is funded by the Medical Research Council and the collaborating universities are Cardiff and Oxford. 2. TREAD will examine whether exercise, in addition to antidepressants, can improve the outcome of their depression and alter their subsequent use of antidepressant medication. An important aspect of this trial will be that patients can chose their own form of exercise so that it fits in with their lifestyle. They will be encouraged to take charge of their own activity decisions, rather than be prescribed a particular form of exercise. Dr Adrian Taylor, from the University of Exeter’s School of Sport and Health Sciences, said: "I am very aware of the need to design physical activity programmes that people will be motivated to do. Sending patients to a gym may work for some but not for others. We must use our experience in helping people become more physically active, through providing appropriate opportunities, choice and the right social support and guidance." TREAD is funded by the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme and the collaborating universities are Exeter and the Peninsular Medical School. More than 2.9 million people in the UK are diagnosed as having depression at any one time. Up to another 8.7 million cases are neither recognised nor treated. There are now over 25 million antidepressant prescriptions made each year in the UK, costing the National Health Service (NHS) £80 million. Mental health problems, mainly depression, account for about one third of all consultations with doctors. END Notes to Editors The Academic Units of Psychiatry and Primary Health Care at the University of Bristol are world-leading centres for research and teaching. For more information see: www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Psychiatry and www.bris.ac.uk/depts/primaryhealthcare Exeter University’s School of Sport and Health Sciences has an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. For further information see: http://www.ex.ac.uk/sshs/index.shtml For information on all the trials on depression being run at the University of Bristol see: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2005/684 GENPOD and TREAD are being run through the Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) which involves 20 Universities and 38 NHS Trusts from across the country. Researchers on projects adopted by the network benefit both from being able to access high level expertise within the network and a coordinated approach to patient recruitment.
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