Depressed patients are overdosing by doctors’ prescription
Despite the advent of new antidepressant drugs such as the SSRIs, psychiatrists are still prescribing the older tricyclic drugs, the best known of which are amitriptyline and imipramine. And despite over 30 years of use, it’s only now that researchers have set about finding out whether they really work.
After a major review of the evidence, the embarrassing news is that psychiatrists have been prescribing too-high dosages. At the standard dose of 125 mg a day, side-effects become so intolerable that many patients simply give up - clearly preferring to be depressed rather than lose their appetite and libido, or suffer constipation, dehydration and confusion (BMJ, 2002; 325: 991).