Sunday, May 23, 2010

Placebo works as well as antidepressant drugs

In many cases of depression, antidepressant drugs provide little or no benefit over the effect of a placebo, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In a meta-analysis of six prior studies on both the older tricyclic and the newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, the researchers found that the less severe the depression, the less effective the drug. The sample included 434 patients who were taking antidepressants and 284 who were getting a placebo.

"The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo increases with severity of depression symptoms and may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms," the researchers wrote.

The study did suggest that antidepressants might be more effective than a placebo in some cases of severe depression. Dr. Gary Kennedy of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine questioned this finding, however. Read more...

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