Is This Definitive Proof that Anti-Depressants Work?

Looking at previously unpublished data from more than 500 clinical trials, scientists say they now have definitive proof that anti-depressants do, in fact, work.  It is very important to note, though, that these clinical trials all involved short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

According to Lead Researcher Dr. Andrea Cipriani, of the University of Oxford, “This study is the final answer to a long-standing controversy about whether anti-depressants work for depression.”

She continues, “We found the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants work for moderate to severe depression and I think this is very good news for patients and clinicians.”

The study authors also make sure to note that the data does suggest a wide range of efficacy—some only a third more effective and others more than twice as effective as a placebo—but the findings could help doctors more accurately pick the right prescription for each patient.  More importantly, the study authors says that these findings indicate that not everyone needs to switch medications; at least, not yet.

The reason for this is because the study only looked at the average effect each drug had as opposed to how they worked in individual cases, taking into account different variables like age, gender, symptom severity, etc. Also, they argue that these findings neither should be applied to long-term users and, most importantly, that anti-depressants should not necessarily be the first angle on treatment.

Dr. Cipriani goes on to say, “Medication should always be considered alongside other options, such as psychological therapies, where these are available.”

The study also claims to have determined which anti-depressants are the most effective.  According to the study, these are:

  • Paroxetine
  • Escitalopram
  • Agomelatine
  • Mirtazapine
  • Amitriptyline

Alternately, then, the least effective have been determined to be:

  • Trazodone
  • Reboxetine
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Fluoxetine

Fluoxetine, of course, is the clinical known for the once-extremely-popular Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) known around the world as Prozac.

Also, Prof Carmine Pariante, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, concludes: “This meta-analysis finally puts to bed the controversy on anti-depressants, clearly showing that these drugs do work in lifting mood and helping most people with depression.”

Pariante adds, “Importantly, the paper analyses unpublished data held by pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the funding of studies by these companies does not influence the result, thus confirming that the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.”

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