Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Depressing news: antidepressants don't work?

In the April issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Claudia Wiedemann reviews reactions to a meta analysis by Kirsch et al. of data on antidepressant drugs submitted to the Food and Drug Administration that resulted in the licensing of four of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants: the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) Prozac, Seroxat, Effexor and Serzone. For anything but the most severe depression, there was no difference between the drugs and placebos. Kirsch suggests that there is little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients. The conclusion of the study:
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.


  1. This was also cited in Action Potential.

    This raises an interesting question about what amount of treatability of depression is all in the head - if a placebo will do just as much. What about the SSRIs isn't helping the depressed patients?

    I'm a student where you are and I find this extremely fascinating. Check out my blog at .

  2. You are a student at Univ. Wisc. Madison? I'm back in Madison ~ April 15 from my snowbird phase in Ft. Lauderdale, stop by and say hello sometime.

  3. SSRI’s like Paxil (Seroxat) are extremely dangerous , Bob Fiddaman is a Seroxat patient campaigner and he has been blogging about the Seroxat scandal for some years. Recently GSK (manufacturers of Seroxat – GlaxoSmithKline) have used threatening and intimidating tactics to try and suppress his voice.

    I am calling all mental health campaigners to highlight this on their blogs if they can.

  4. Eeew, alternative medicine wackjobs.