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Thursday January  7, 09:01

Antidepressants useless for most patients

For mild or moderate disease, these drugs are not much better than placebo
For mild or moderate disease, these drugs are not much better than placebo

Antidepressants are probably unnecessary for the vast majority of patients to whom they are prescribed, but their effectiveness is not in doubt however in very severe forms of depression. For mild or moderate disease, these drugs are not much better than placebo.

This is essentially the conclusion of U.S. researchers in an article published Wednesday in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

Jay Fournier (University of Pennsylvania) and colleagues conducted six trials comparing the therapeutic effects of antidepressants to placebo. Overall, their analysis included over 700 patients, suffering from more or less severe depression.

According to studies, they were treated with either imipramine, a classic antidepressant, or by paroxetine (also called as prozac). Ultimately, whatever drug is used, the situation is the same.

For patients with very severe depression, antidepressant efficacy is superior to placebo (a product devoid of active components). However, the benefits of these drugs appear minimal or nonexistent, in people with mild or moderate depression.

"Prescribers, policymakers and consumers are perhaps not aware that the effectiveness of these drugs has been proved by studies that included patients with severe forms of depression only. This important fact does not appear in promotional advertisements of these drugs to physicians and the public, " write the researchers.


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