New Studies on Antidepressants’ Effectiveness

Two studies just released on antidepressants show that they are no more beneficial to patients suffering from depression than placebos except for patients who have severe depression. PLoS Medicine, a peer-reviewed, open access journal published by the Public Library of Science, released a study February 26 that indicates antidepressants have very little effect on patients unless they suffer from severe depression. According to the study by Dr. Irving Kirsch, of the Department of Psychology of the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, along with several psychologists from Canada and the US, the overall effect of antidepressants did not meet the criteria recommended for clinical use. The researchers found that “there was virtually no difference in the improvement scores for drug and placebo patients with moderate depression” though there was significant improvement in the scores of patients with severe depression.

Alternet describes another study from the New England Journal of Medicine that was directed by Dr. Erick H. Turner, a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) medical reviewer, published at the end of January. The researchers reviewed data, provided to the FDA by drug companies in their appeals for approval. They were forced to obtain the data by filing a Freedom of Information request. This study reveals that antidepressants do not work significantly better than placebos except in cases of severe depression. According to the study, only 51 percent of studies registered with the FDA show antidepressants work better than placebos even though 94 percent of the studies published in journals show antidepressants to be more effective.

Two times more women than men suffer from depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The Washington Post reports that in 2004, one in ten American women took antidepressants.


Alternet 02/28/08; HealthDay News 02/26/08; Washington Post 12/03/04; PLoS Medicine 02/26/08; NIMH; New England Journal of Medicine

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