At the blog The Last Psychiatrist the author makes a chilling suggestion. Not that antidepressants aren’t very effective — that seems to be a given at this point. But that drug companies are gearing up for the next phase — touting the antidepressant qualities of the atypical antipsychotics, a powerful and expensive new class of drugs known for their challenging side effects.
So here is some of the press published lately suggesting that antidepressants are about effective as placebo. From what I gather, this is actually new press for old data.
Professor Kirsch said: “Given these results, there seems to be little reason to prescribe antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed to provide a benefit. This study raises serious issues that need to be addressed surrounding drug licensing and how drug trial data is reported.”
Alternative treatments for depression, such as counselling or physical exercise , should be tried first, Professor Kirsch said. The pharmaceutical companies had withheld data that was available to the licensing authorities so that doctors and patients did not understand the true efficacy, or lack of it, of the drugs.
At Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry another look at the Kirsch et al findings.
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.