Depression: antidepressants more effective than placebo and with some differences

Researchers have evaluated the effectiveness of 21 antidepressants in the short-term treatment of depression. All are not equal, especially some are not suitable for all profiles. Explanations.

A quarter of the French received a prescription of psychotropic drugs in the year. This rate is the result of a study conducted and published by the Health Insurance in 2003. There are various treatments based on psychotropic drugs, each adapted to a type of patient. American researchers have compared the effectiveness of different antidepressants.

The study was conducted by Oxford Biomedical Research Center in the United Kingdom and by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The results are published in The Lancet.

Antidepressants more effective than placebos

The data used by the researchers concerned 116,477 participants, all treated for major depressive disorders. 21 antidepressants were studied and compared to placebo. In all cases, the treatments were more effective than the placebo. This debate is very recurrent in the scientific community.

Some psychotropic drugs, however, were more effective in certain evaluation criteria: the response to treatment was higher and the dropout rate was lower. These are escitalopram, mirtazapine, paroxetine, agomelatine and sertraline. Some antidepressants have been shown to be less effective and less tolerable, such as reboxetine, trazodone and fluvoxamine. Their use requires, according to the researchers, more vigilance.

Different efficacy depending on the age of the patient

A previous study by the same researchers showed differences in results for the same treatment depending on whether it was used to treat a young or adult patient. For example, fluoxetine is the main antidepressant effective for treating depressive symptoms in adolescents. According to this study, this treatment is the only one to be more effective than placebos, and should only be used if medication is needed.

According to a study by the French Agency for Health Safety of Health Products, 3% of adolescents would be affected by depression.

The real problem is to find a marker that would predict from the outset the effectiveness of an antidepressant for a given patient. Because it is shown that more time passes and more patients become resistant to the usual antidepressant treatments.

Video: Antidepressants and Placebo Controversies (February 2020).