Antidepressant Effectiveness Probably Overstated
January 29, 2008
Reuters HealthDay reported on January 16, 2008 on an article in the January 17, 2008 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine which found that the effectiveness of antidepressants is overstated and misrepresented.
A systematic review of studies on antidepressants concludes that the positive effects of these drugs are probably overstated in the medical literature.
But it's not clear if the bias comes from a reluctance to submit negative manuscripts or decisions by journals not to publish them, or a combination of both, according to Oregon Health and Science University researchers, whose report is published in the Jan. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The researchers compared drug efficacy inferred from published studies with drug efficacy reported to a mandatory U.S. government registry of clinical trials, in which all results, including raw data, must be included.
Only 51 percent of studies in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration registry were considered by the agency to have positive results.
In the published medical literature, however, 94 percent of studies appeared positive.
The increase in the effectiveness of the drug ranged from 11 percent to 69 percent for individual drugs, and was 32 percent overall. The antidepressant Wellbutrin appeared to show a high level of bias.
The authors also noted that studies that were not positive were often published with a slant that made them seem positive
This is really not new information for us in the field. It appears that the biggest postive effect of antidepressants can be attributed to the placebo effect. After that there is little evidence that a positive effect is due to a pharmocological influence.
Other evidence indicates that psychotherapy and exercise has a positive effect on depression.
Having said that, I know many patients who benefit from antidepressants and I, myself, take Celexa which I believe helps me. I also go for psychotherapy at least once per month and sometimes two times per month.
Link: MedlinePlus: Antidepressant Effectiveness Probably Overstated: Report.