The drugs do work - study suggests antidepressants are effective

The drugs do work - study suggests antidepressants are effective

Crucially, Kirsch's 2008 meta-analysis showing antidepressants are no more effective than placebo included data sent by pharmaceutical companies to the Food and Drug Administration to approve various antidepressants-which Kirsch obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The study results represent the most comprehensive evidence now available, they wrote.

Researchers sought to use the findings to overcome "ideological" opposition to the treatment of depression with drugs.

There were 64.7 million prescriptions for the drugs in England in 2016 - more than double the 31 million in 2006 - but there has been a debate about how effective they are, with some trial suggesting they are no better than placebos. The majority of the most effective antidepressants are now off patent and available in generic form.

While these results should reassure many people with depression that antidepressants can be effective, "this does not necessarily mean antidepressants should always be the first line of treatment", he said.

"Unfortunately, we know that about one-third of patients with depression will not respond to them", he said. Still, it should be noted that different drugs have different impacts on individuals.

"Importantly, the paper analyses unpublished data held by pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the funding of studies by these companies does not influence the result, thus confirming that the clinical usefulness of these drugs is not affected by pharma-sponsored spin", she said.

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Of course, if one drug were always more effective than the others, then we wouldn't need so many antidepressants-doctors could simply prescribe the best one to all patients.

An estimated 350 million people have depression worldwide.

Co-author Professor John Ioannidis acknowledged there was much speculation surrounding the effectiveness of anti-depressants, despite millions of people around the world taking the drugs.

Pooling data from 522 trials including almost 120,000 patients, researchers found all drugs analysed were more effective than placebos in the treatment of adults with acute depression.

In the worldwide study published in the Lancet, authors found that fluoxetine-commonly sold under then trade name Prozac-was one of the least effective antidepressants. However, the design of the meta-analysis and the inclusion of previously unpublished data attempted to reduce the impact of bias as much as possible. Overall, 9% of the trials included in this meta-analysis were considered as high-risk of bias, 73% as moderate and 18% as low.

There might be different mechanisms causing depression, potentially causing different types of depression, which is something that's still a matter of active debate. However, this does nothing to diminish the merit of the study.

The essential results were viability (number of patients who reacted to treatment, i.e. who had a diminished in depressive side effects of half or more on an approved rating scale more than two months) and adequacy (extent of patients who pulled back from the examination for any reason by week 8). The choice will be need to made by doctor and patient'.

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