Do Antidepressant Meds Really Work? In a Word, NO!

From the Dana Foundation:

Simply stated, clinical trial data on antidepressants, similar to that for many other classes of drugs, including most cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs, have never shown that more than 60 to 70 percent of patients in any given study improve.  And, in many studies, improvement on a placebo (so-called sugar pill with no active drug) is observed in 30 to 50 percent of patients during the average six week trial period.  This could be taken to mean that only about 20 percent of depressed patients truly benefit from their antidepressant medication (i.e. beyond those patients who would benefit from just a placebo), with 30 to 40 percent of patients failing to improve on either drug or placebo.

Why, then are drugs with such limitations widely used as antidepressants by the medical profession?

Great question. Especially when studies have shown that the single most effective treatment for depression is…

Wait for it…

Whichever one the patient, not the doctor, believes is going to be most effective. A 2005 study found that “after three months of treatment, the…patients matched with their preferred treatment were significantly less depressed than those not matched. Patients who got their preferred treatment also tended to be less depressed after nine months.”

So the placebo effect seems to take place even when you’re not receiving a placebo — simply the belief and expectation that the treatment you’re receiving significantly improves its effectiveness.

Does this have implications for treatments for other health issues, both mental and physical? Not a huge leap…

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