Depression drug study

Volunteers like Sharon are taking part in a trial of a new drug which could shorten episodes of depression.

Experts at Leeds University are launching a new trial for a drug which could shorten episodes of depression in many patients. he researchers are looking at the effects of a new drug, Metyrapone, which inhibits the production of steroids in the body. Steroids, such as cortisol, may hamper the effectiveness of antidepressant drugs. Depression has long been linked with increased amounts of stress, meaning that many who suffer from it produce too much cortisol, which may reduce the effectiveness of drugs in these people.

Depression affects 8 per cent of the population at some point during their lifetime and 1 in every hundred develops symptoms so severe that the person is unable to work.

Depression is not really a mental health problem, it is a health problem. If it was just a mental health problem it would not cause changes in such things as energy level, appetite, weight and sleep. Further, one of the body's natural responses to stress is to produce more of the hormone cortisol. Many people with depression have abnormally high levels of cortisol. This may mean they do not respond as well to antidepressant drugs. Metyrapone works by reducing the production of this hormone. We want to find out whether adding Metyrapone to a patient's usual antidepressant treatment makes that treatment more effective. A smaller study in people in Germany found Metyrapone was effective and we want to test this in a bigger study.''

The researchers need patients from across West Yorkshire to take part in the trial. Metyrapone or a placebo is added to existing antidepressants for three weeks and the effects studied over the next few months. The research group are also carrying out some blood tests to investigate how the drug works.If you are interested in taking part or hearing more about the study please visit the website

Fifty year old Sharon who has been suffering from depression for the last 10 years has just signed up to take part in the Metyrapone drug trial in Leeds.

Before her illness she worked as a tailor, was very sociable and able to do things for herself. Having depression has affected almost every aspect of her life including her relationship with others. She has not been able to work since being ill.

I used to be active, enjoyed listening to music, go for walks and night club but now I don't bother. Now I have not got the energy to do anything because of the illness. Since this illness I have lost my self esteem and confidence. The future looks dim and life is not worth living. I look at other people and wish I had a life like them instead of being moody, suicidal and sad all the time. I am tired all the time, I have headaches, muscular pains, not able to eat or enjoy what I eat, my sleep is all over the place and I have gained weight. I am taking part in this trial in order to hopefully get better."