Dating and anti depressants
“Antidepressants are routinely used worldwide yet there remains considerable debate about their effectiveness and tolerability,” said John Ioannidis of Stanford University, who worked with a team of researchers led by Andrea Cipriani.
Mr Cipriani said the findings offered “the best available evidence to inform and guide doctors and patients” and should reassure people with depression that drugs can help.
Data from 522 trials, involving 116,000 patients, found that every one of the 21 antidepressants used were better than a placebo.
In general, newer antidepressants tended to be better tolerated due to fewer side effects, while the most effective drug in terms of reducing depressive symptoms was amitriptyline – a drug first discovered in the 1950s.
But Prof John Geddes, Oxford’s head of psychiatry, believes it is not enough. “Only about one in six people with depression receive effective treatment in high-income countries.
“Antidepressants can be an effective tool to treat major depression, but this does not necessarily mean antidepressants should always be the first line of treatment,” he told a briefing in London.
The study looks at average effects and therefore should not be interpreted as showing how drugs work for every patient.
According to the World Health Organisation, 300 million people worldwide have depression.
While both pharmacological and psychological treatments are available, only one in six people with depression in rich countries gets effective treatment.