A Lot of “Spin” in Studies of Using Antidepressants for Treating Anxiety


There are a lot of publication and reporting biases in studies of the efficacy of second-generation antidepressants for the treatment of anxiety, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry.

A team of researchers from Oregon State University, Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of Groningen in The Netherlands
reviewed 57 premarketing clinical trials of 9 second-generation antidepressants in the treatment of anxiety disorders that were provided to the US Food and Drug Administration. They also searched for these studies to see if they’d been published in journals.

“It concludes that studies supporting the value of these medications for that purpose have been distorted by publication bias, outcome reporting bias and ‘spin’,” stated a press release about the study. “Even though they may still play a role in treating these disorders, the effectiveness of the drugs has been overestimated. In some cases the medications, which are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, are not significantly more useful than a placebo.”

“These findings mirror what we found previously with the same drugs when used to treat major depression, and with antipsychotics,” one of the researchers said in the press release. “When their studies don’t turn out well, you usually won’t know it from the peer-reviewed literature… The peer review process of publication allows, perhaps even encourages, this kind of thing to happen. And this isn’t restricted to psychiatry – reporting bias has been found throughout the medical and scientific literature.”

Publication bias and ‘spin’ raise questions about drugs for anxiety disorders (Oregon State University press release on MedicalXpress, March 30, 2015)

Roest AM, de Jonge P, Williams CD, de Vries Y, Schoevers RA, Turner EH. Reporting Bias in Clinical Trials Investigating the Efficacy of Second-Generation Antidepressants in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders: A Report of 2 Meta-analyses. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online March 25, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.15. (Abstract)


  1. Here we go again… – there is almost no evidence that these drugs have any worth in treating the presumed disorders (which are not even really valid clinical categories) and have considerable side effects – but let’s just forget these inconvenient facts while we’re making tons of money on them. FDA is a joke to allow this.

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  2. It’s so unfortunate that medications are the go-to treatment for depression and anxiety. Medications simply mask the symptoms rather than treat the illness. I spiralled into a depression as a result of having a stroke, and I refused to take any of the medications that multiple doctors tried to prescribe me.

    Instead I used a program that was developed by a depression survivor, which you can see the review for at http://www.letstreatdepression.com

    As long as I continue to follow the program, my depression is nowhere to be seen! Unfortunately, they are going to continue stuffing medications down our throat because there is so much money to be made. People, do your own research and treat yourself the natural way!

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