Here are some findings that could help settle a longstanding debate about the use of antidepressants to treat depression. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, some widely prescribed drugs for depression provide relief in extreme cases but are no more effective than placebo pills for most patients.
Researchers combined data from six studies involving more than 700 people and two drugs including the popular Paxil. The drugs were very effective in people diagnosed with very severe cases of depression.
But about half of those prescribed antidepressants fit into the mild to severe categories. They researchers say the so-called placebo effect is powerful in treating depression, where people believe they are helped even though they are taking an inactive sugar pill.
They say the message for patients with mild to moderate depression is that medications are always an option, but there’s little evidence that they add to other efforts to shake the depression — whether it’s exercise, seeing the doctor, reading about the disorder or going for psychotherapy. To put this in perspective, 27 million Americans take antidepressants, nearly double the number that did in the mid-1990s,