Published: Fri, February 23, 2018
Medical | By Alyssa Little

Study seeks to end antidepressant debate

Study seeks to end antidepressant debate

It reviewed 522 already-published, randomized controlled trials that tested 21 antidepressants on more than 116,000 participants.

"This research should reassure patients who are taking or are contemplating commencing antidepressants, and the doctors that prescribe them, that they are an effective treatment". But, he said, "about 80% of people stop antidepressants within a month". From a scientific perspective though, they're highly contested.

The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, found some differences in the effectiveness of the 21 drugs.

The debate over antidepressants has unfortunately often been ideological, said Cipriani. "Several treatments do seem work better than others", he said. The FDA demands pharmaceutical companies provide data on all the clinical trials they sponsor-including unpublished trials.

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Although important, these results do not answer the question about the long-term effects of antidepressants, and a network meta-analysis approach can not be used on the individual patient level, Sagar V Parikh, MD, department of psychiatry, University of MI, and Sidney H Kennedy, MD, department of psychiatry, University of Toronto, wrote in an accompanying comment. Pharmaceutical companies have very little incentive to publish trials with negative results, and journals also nearly never publish negative results, so published results are skewed towards positivity.

A new study is the largest to date on treating depression in adults.

The study results represent the most comprehensive evidence now available, they wrote. Overall, 9% of the trials included in this meta-analysis were considered as high-risk of bias, 73% as moderate and 18% as low.

If cancer or heart patients suffered this level of under-treatment, there would be a public outcry, they say. Two drugs (agomelatine and fluoxetine) appeared to be better tolerated than placebo, with less dropouts due to side effects, and only one drug (clomipramine) was more poorly tolerated than placebo. "We found that the most commonly used antidepressants are more effective that placebo, with some more effective than others".

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Nowadays, people are more exposed than ever to all kind of depressive actions and environments.

"Some people really respond, some don't respond at all, and everything in between", Steve Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for psychiatric research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, previously told Quartz.

The data involves meta-analysis covers 8-weeks of treatment. Professor Carmine Pariante, spokesperson for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the analysis "finally puts to bed the controversy on antidepressants, clearly showing that these drugs do work in lifting mood and helping most people with depression".

In the U.K, where a number of the study authors are based, at least one million more people could benefit from drugs or psychotherapy, senior author John Geddes said.

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Through examining trials involving almost 120,000 people, including patients taking 21 commonly prescribed antidepressants, the research found all the drugs were more effective than a placebo.

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