Agomelatine is an antidepressant medication first approved in Europe. It activates melatonin receptors in the brain to help patients with severe depression achieve a more balanced mood. The mechanism of action makes it different from many other medications used to manage depression, which often work on serotonin receptors. Patients on agomelatine can experience fewer side effects, especially when withdrawing from the medication, and are less likely to develop sleep disruption.
Clinical trials on the efficacy of agomelatine have shown mixed results. Test results in Europe were strong enough to merit drug approval, indicating that it outperformed placebo, but other studies have been less promising. One potential use of agomelatine is in treatment of patients who do not respond well to first line treatment with other antidepressants or cannot take these medications because of drug interactions or other issues. For these patients, the drug could be helpful for controlling depression when other options aren’t available.
Patients using agomelatine can experience side effects like dizziness and blurred vision. This drug also appears to cause some problems with liver function, including an elevation in some liver enzymes. While a patient takes the medication, it may be necessary to have routine liver function tests on a regular basis to check for complications. If the patient’s liver is stressed, it may not be safe to continue agomelatine therapy.
One clear benefit of agomelatine is that, unlike many other antidepressants, it doesn’t appear to cause severe withdrawal symptoms when patients stop. People who decide to stop taking antidepressants or switch medications can experience severe symptoms like increased depression and confusion while they adjust. These symptoms don’t typically develop with agomelatine cessation, allowing patients to safely stop using the medication if they feel it is not working for them, want to switch drugs, or wish to stop antidepressant therapy altogether.
Treatment recommendations for severe depression typically include counseling as well as drug therapy. Patients can use a mixture of drugs and counseling sessions to address specific issues, develop coping skills, and aggressively manage their condition. Some may need to continue taking antidepressants for life to reduce the risk of another depressive episode; others may choose to stop taking medication when they start to feel better, but continue therapy so they have an outlet for addressing issues as they arise. Therapy is highly individualized and patients may find it helpful to meet with several providers to identify a good match.