The drugs do work - study suggests antidepressants are effective


The worldwide investigation is a system meta-examination of 522 twofold visually impaired, randomized controlled trials involving an aggregate of 116477 members.

It has been suggested a million more people per year in the United Kingdom should be given access to treatment for depression, through either drugs or talking therapies, with scientists saying the study proves drugs do work. From a scientific perspective though, they're highly contested. The fact that the conclusion "antidepressants work" was considered groundbreaking enough to be published in a reputable science journal says a lot about existing uncertainties in the field. And, though the meta-analysis is strong, this paper is unlikely to conclusively end the debate over the efficacy of antidepressants. Severe emotional shocks are another possible cause for depression and if they are not treated accordingly, depressions can even determine a person to commit suicide.

After considering all the trials, the team discerned that all 21 antidepressants were more effective than placebo in the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder.

"Importantly, the paper analyses unpublished data held by pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the funding of studies by these companies does not influence the result, thus confirming that the clinical usefulness of these drugs is not affected by pharma-sponsored spin". Pharmaceutical companies have very little incentive to publish trials with negative results, and journals also nearly never publish negative results, so published results are skewed towards positivity.

The analysis of more than 500 trials found some medications worked better than others, however. There have been findings that counter Kirsch's work and show antidepressants are truly effective, which Kirsch in turn rejected through his own research. Among the trials, 9 percent were rated as having high risk of bias, 78 percent as having moderate risk of bias and 18 percent as having low risk of bias. "Patients should be aware of the potential benefits from antidepressants and always speak to the doctors about the most suitable treatment for them individually". Notably, the most famous antidepressant of them all, Prozac (currently out of patent and commonly known by its generic name, fluoxetine), was one of the least effective options, though it was best tolerated (fewest side effects). But different patients respond very differently to the same drug. "Depression is a significant mental illness which, if left untreated or unmanaged, can cause a huge amount of distress for a patient, their family and friends".

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Finally, there's the issue of long-term effectiveness.

Other experts said the study was of major importance.

Nowadays, people are more exposed than ever to all kind of depressive actions and environments. Most drugs are barely effective if at all, which is something authors of this study admit.

"This study is the final answer to a long-standing controversy about whether anti-depressants work for depression", revealed Cipriani, when discussing her study with the BBC.

More information about depression is available at Beyond Blue.