Antidepressant drugs don't work – official study
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
They are among the biggest-selling drugs of all time, the "happiness pills" that supposedly lift the moods of those who suffer depression and are taken by millions of people every year.
But one of the largest studies of modern antidepressant drugs has found that they have no clinically significant effect. In other words, they don't work.
The finding will send shock waves through the medical profession and patients and raises serious questions about the regulation of the multinational pharmaceutical industry, which was accused yesterday of withholding data on the drugs.
In the study, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of all 47 clinical trials, published and unpublished, submitted to the Food and Drug Administration in the US. The results showed the drugs were effective only in a very small group of the most extremely depressed.
Alternative treatments for depression, such as counselling or physical exercise , should be tried first, Professor Kirsch said. The pharmaceutical companies had withheld data that was available to the licensing authorities so that doctors and patients did not understand the true efficacy, or lack of it, of the drugs.
We have put a lot of emphasis on medication in the past and it is about time we redressed the balance and put more emphasis on talking treatments."
Exercise: Helps some people with depression. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, said running helped him cope with depression.
Antidepressants: Increasingly seen as a second-line treatment, if exercise or talking treatments do not work.