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Monday 19th August 2019

Anti-depressants don't work

26th February 2008

Research from the University of Hull has suggested that modern antidepressant medication does not have clinically recognisable effects.


The team looked at information from 47 clinical trials, including clinical trial data and data which had not been published.

Their focus was on medication which increases serotoin levels in the brain, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Seroxat).

Approximately 3.5 million people in the UK take these drugs, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Over 31 million prescriptions were written in England in 2006, with 16.2 million for SSRIs.

The team found that antidepressant medication only worked for a small proportion of people who were "severely" depressed. However, they said this was because placebos did not have as much impact on this group as opposed to a "positive" effect by the antidepressants.

Lead researcher Professor Irving Kirsch said: "The difference in improvement between patients taking placebos and patients taking anti-depressants is not very great."

He explained that it meant depressed people could get better without necessarily using medication.

"Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed to provide a benefit," he added.

The manufacturers of Prozac, made by Eli Lilly, and Seroxat, made by GlaxoSmithKline, said they did not agree with the study's results.

GlaxoSmithKline said the study did not acknowledge antidepressants' benefits and its findings were "at odds with the very positive benefits seen in actual clinical practice."

A spokesperson added: "This one study should not be used to cause unnecessary alarm for patients."




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