Antidepressant Efficacy

A 2002 article in the American Psychological Association journal Prevention and Treatment describes the lack of efficacy for antidepressant drugs. Even if there is a difference between drug and placebo, it is clinically insignificant. The majority of studies on antidepressants actually found no significant difference between drug and placebo. The negative results were not published and the researchers had to request access to US FDA documents to review the data.

A 2008 meta-analysis in PLoS Med has this to say about the lack of efficacy for antidepressants: “Drug-placebo differences in antidepressant efficacy increase as a function of baseline severity, but are relatively small even for severely depressed patients. The relationship between initial severity and antidepressant efficacy is attributable to decreased responsiveness to placebo among very severely depressed patients, rather than to increased responsiveness to medication.”

A 2008 article by prestigious researcher John Ioannidis reviewed the evidence that antidepressants are not effective. “While only half of these trials had formally significant effectiveness, published reports almost ubiquitously claimed significant results. ‘Negative’ trials were either left unpublished or were distorted to present ‘positive’ results.” This article ends with the statement: “Nevertheless, even if one feels a bit depressed by this state of affairs, there is no reason to take antidepressants, they probably won’t work.”

A recent report that appeared in the British Medical Journal/Evidence-Based Medicine which concluded antidepressants should not be prescribed because there is no evidence that their benefits outweigh the harms- even for major depression.