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NIHR Signal Combining mirtazapine with other antidepressants is not effective for treatment-resistant depression
Adding mirtazapine to first-line antidepressants for adults with treatment-resistant depression does not improve symptoms when compared with placebo (dummy pills). People taking mirtazapine are more likely to experience side effects, and stop taking their treatment. This NIHR-funded trial took place in 106 general practices in England, recruiting 480 adults with mild to severe depression. All participants had been taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin-noradrenaline r...
NIHR Signal Antidepressants do not help treat depression in people living with dementia
Antidepressants do not reduce symptoms of depression in people with dementia compared with placebo (dummy pills). Measured 6 to 13 weeks after starting the treatment, there is little or no difference in participants’ symptoms, but an increased chance of unwanted side effects. The review did not identify enough data to determine if antidepressants have an effect in the longer-term. This Cochrane review included randomised controlled trials of any antidepressant drugs compared to placebo. P...
NIHR Signal Thyroid hormone treatment does not help adults with mildly abnormal thyroid tests
There appears to be no benefit from treating adults with subclinical hypothyroidism. Treatment has no effect on quality of life or symptoms compared with placebo or no treatment. Thyroid function tests are commonly performed in general practice for patients who present with a range of symptoms, including fatigue or tiredness. When subclinical hypothyroidism is detected, there is uncertainty whether treatment is worthwhile or how to best monitor success. A recent large study found that hormone l...
NIHR Signal Benzodiazepines may increase length of stay and chance of delirium in intensive care
Benzodiazepines given during mechanical ventilation in intensive care could increase the risk of a longer hospital stay and delirium compared to other sedatives. A range of sedatives are used to reduce psychological distress in critically ill patients, but prior to this study, it was not clear which drugs are most effective. This systematic review looked at all the evidence from randomised controlled trials for the effectiveness of six different types of sedative used in people given mechanical...
NIHR Signal Paracetamol and alcohol are the most common substances taken by young people and rates of poisoning are increasing
The rates of the five most common types of poisoningin young people haveincreased three to five-fold from 1998 to 2014 and is cause for concern. A study including more than 1.7 million young people aged 10 to 24 in the UK found records of 31,509 people who had been treated for poisoning (2% of the total). Where the substance was recorded, 40% of poisonings involved paracetamol, and 33% involved alcohol. Other substances used included non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants and op...
NIHR Signal Delirium is common among adults receiving palliative care and could be better recognised
Between a quarter and two-thirds of adults admitted to specialist palliative care units experience delirium, or acute confusion. The findings come from a mixed methods project which included a systematic review of the number of people living with delirium. Estimates are mostly applicable to older adults with advanced cancer. The project also included interviews with nurses in Australian palliative care units to look at delirium assessment and use of screening tools. The findings highlighted th...
NIHR Signal Cognitive behavioural therapy may not work for people with schizophrenia who haven’t completely responded to drug treatment
Cognitive behavioural therapy does not improve residual symptoms for people taking clozapine for schizophrenia. Clozapine is the gold-standard antipsychotic that is used when others have not worked. This NIHR-funded UK trial included 487 adults who had been taking clozapine for on average five years but were still symptomatic. Participants received either weekly cognitive behavioural therapy for nine months alongside usual treatment for schizophrenia or usual treatment alone. Usual treatment in...
NIHR Signal Peer support may reduce readmissions following mental health crises
People discharged from mental health crisis teams are less likely to re-enter acute services within a year if they receive self-management support. The support in this study was provided by a peer worker, someone with experience of mental illness. The peer worker used a workbook to provide information and talk through recovery goals. The study compared this with those who had received the workbook by post. Participating adults had a range of mental illnesses and had been managed by six crisis r...
NIHR Signal Guided online interventions can help people recover from depression
Internet-based interventions combined with remote professional support can improve outcomes for people with depression. Those receiving the intervention show better initial response to treatment and higher recovery rates compared with control groups who are either waiting for treatment or receiving less support. This meta-analysis shows people using guided internet therapy are over twice as likely to respond to treatment and achieve remission. This finding reinforces current NICE guidance which...
NIHR Signal Methylphenidate remains first-choice drug treatment for children and young people with ADHD
The stimulant methylphenidate has the best balance of effectiveness against side effects in children and young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Amphetamines are more effective, but also more likely to be stopped for a reason other than side effects. This large, NIHR-funded systematic review compared a range of drugs against each other through a network meta-analysis. Effectiveness and tolerability were assessed at about 12 weeks of treatment. Other second-line drug treatmen...
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