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Do Antidepressants Actually Work? Research Says Probably Not

First Posted: 03/28/08 03:46 AM ET Updated: 11/17/11 09:02 AM ET

Prozac

British researchers have released a report that claims that antidepressants, for the most part, are ineffective.

The researchers found that compared with placebo, these new-generation antidepressant medications did not yield clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially had moderate or even very severe depression. The study found that significant benefits occurred only in the most severely depressed patients.

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So what makes this study different?

There are plenty of studies about antidepressants. What makes this one so important -- the results were front-page news across the U.K. on Tuesday -- is that the researchers were able to track down comprehensive unpublished trial results from the drug makers themselves before the drugs were authorized for sale in the U.S., and include them in their review of the literature. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must receive records of all relevant pharmaceutical-company trials, both published and unpublished, before it will approve a drug. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the researchers writing in PLoS Medicine were recently able to obtain those FDA records of industry-sponsored clinical trials. They yield data, they believe, that lets them avoid a bias that often plagues reviews of previous research: the tendency for conclusive positive results to be published, sometimes more than once, and thus over-represented, while mediocre results can be ignored or even swept under the rug.

Keep reading the Time article.


Find out which treatments do work.

Read more about Prozac's inefficacy here.

Find out how researchers came to these conclusions.

Read blogger Dr. Belisa Vranich's recent column about sex and antidepressants.


Do you or have you ever taken antidepressants? What's been your experience with them? Tell us below in comments.

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Filed by Anya Strzemien  |