A new drug that regulates the internal "body clock" is equally effective in treating depression as standard anti-depressants, researchers have revealed.
According to them, patients who take agomelatine also sleep better and suffer fewer side effects than those on traditional medication, reports the Telegraph.
"Because of its favourable adverse effect and safety profile, and the potential to help to restore circadian function between depressive episodes, this drug might occupy a unique place in the management of some patients with severe depression and other major mood disorders," said Prof. Ian Hickie from the University of Sydney and Associate Professor Naomi Rogers from Central Queensland University.
"Agomelatine appears to not only target the mood symptoms of depression, but also the circadian and sleep-wake symptoms, which likely contribute to its effectiveness," they added.
The study revealed that standard anti-depressants work by raising the levels of a chemical in the brain called serotonin, which affects mood. However, they can lead to sickness and loss of sex drive.
By contrast, agomelatine works by targeting a hormone called melatonin that regulates the internal body clock.
The drug also helps patients who often have trouble sleeping, waking in the night and feeling tired during the daytime.
"In the short-term, agomelatine has similar antidepressant efficacy to venlafaxine, fluoxetine [Prozac], and sertraline [Zoloft] and in the longer run, fewer patients on agomelatine relapse (24 pc) than do those receiving placebo (50 pc), the authors explain.
The study is published online by the medical journal Lancet.