In this open access publication in PLoS it is

…suggest that, compared with placebo, the new-generation antidepressants do not produce clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially have moderate or even very severe depression, but show significant effects only in the most severely depressed patients. The findings also show that the effect for these patients seems to be due to decreased responsiveness to placebo, rather than increased responsiveness to medication. Given these results, the researchers conclude that there is little reason to prescribe new-generation antidepressant medications to any but the most severely depressed patients unless alternative treatments have been ineffective. In addition, the finding that extremely depressed patients are less responsive to placebo than less severely depressed patients but have similar responses to antidepressants is a potentially important insight into how patients with depression respond to antidepressants and placebos that should be investigated further.

Here is the original article.
You don’t need to be special to read it, since it is published in an Open Access journal.


  1. #1 Kelly
    February 29, 2008

    The press coverage of this has been misleading, according to this pharmacy student (I found him via SciBlog’s own Terra Sigillatta).

    Quickly — the studies were not original studies, but meta examinations of previous studies. The previous studies only showed the effects of 4-6 months in mildly depressed patients. They don’t cover severely depressed nor long term use.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    February 29, 2008

    Yes, it is a meta study (which is still a study) and it focuses on a subset of treatments and conditions, as do all studies. I have not seen the press coverage, but I’m not surprised to find that it is misleading.

  3. #3 steve hayes
    March 1, 2008

    As the director of Novus Medical Detox, I often see patients who are on alcohol or opioids, central nervous system depressants, also taking antidepressants. When they detox they find they don’t need the antidepressants.

    This is good news because a Swedish study showed that 52% of the 2006 suicides by women on antidepressants. Since antidepressants work no better than placebos and are less effective than exercise in dealing with depression.

    There is a prescription drug epidemic and these are leaders in the list of terribe abuses.

    Steve Hayes