Critiques of a New Research Study on Antidepressants

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A new meta-analysis claiming to prove once and for all that antidepressants are an effective treatment for moderate to severe depression was published just a few days ago in The Lancet. Several critical psychiatry researchers and advocates have now published critiques of the study, arguing that the results do not account for the long-term effects of antidepressants, adverse reactions, or withdrawal symptoms. Click below to read some critical perspectives on the new research.

Do Antidepressants Work? The New Research Proves Nothing New by the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry

“The trials only covered short-term antidepressant usage (8 weeks) in people with severe or moderate depression. Around 50% of patients have been taking antidepressants for more than two years, and the study tells us nothing about their effects over the long term. In fact, there is no evidence that long-term use has any benefits, and in real-world trials (STAR-D study) outcomes are very poor.”

I Was Like a Numb Zombie on Antidepressants by Annie Corcoran

“The study exhibits a narrow view, which I find particularly scary. Even if you are lucky enough to feel better after taking the pills, medication is only a very small part of the battle. For example, if you broke your leg, you wouldn’t expect it to just heal because it was in a plaster cast. To get it healthy again you would expect to be provided with crutches and most likely some form of physiotherapy.”

More Drugs Are Not the Answer by Peter Kinderman 

“We know drugs can raise our moods. That’s important. It may be something we want to contemplate when considering help, but it doesn’t really change a great deal. In particular, this research doesn’t speak of what the experience of depression actually is. Nor does it explore the disease model of mental health or offer insights into the causal processes that might lead people to be depressed. It’s important – at least in my opinion – to remember that, even when medication can help alleviate distress, that is not necessarily evidence that a biological disease process lies behind our mental health problems. We know that our mental health is intimately related to the things that happen to us, the circumstances of our lives, and how we make sense of this.”

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Also, this is a review of existing trials – almost all of these existing studies have been funded by large pharmaceutical companies that appear to engage in a great deal of selective reporting, medical ghostwriting, data mischaracterisation and academic malfeasance. Some of the biases in these trials are exposed in the following article:
    Lancee, M., et al. (2017), Outcome reporting bias in randomized-controlled trials investigating antipsychotic drugs, Translational Psychiatry, 7, e1232.

    • Yes, exactly. And yet it passes peer review for publication in the Lancet. What more do we need to know?

      Johann Harri interviewed John Ioaniddes (sp?), who I think is about the most important figure in medical research in the last couple of decades for having shown clearly just how bad so much peer-reviewed research is. (2005, “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” is the most downloaded article on PLOS medicine.) At the end of the interview in which Ioannides essentially says research on SSRIs is as bad as any body of research out there, Harri asks him how he feels about the whole thing. He says, well, it’s really terribly depressing…but not nearly depressing enough to make me want to ever take one of those drugs!”

      • Science is badly broken. The current system of peer review is a not a good filter for bad studies. Consequently, drug companies can fund biased research, some proportion (perhaps 10-30%) of these bad studies will get published (this is hundreds and thousands of research papers), and as a result, the pharmaceutical industry imposes a false theory on the scientific and medical community and almost everyone believes it like a gospel. Needless to say, these false theories are immensely profitable to the pharmaceutical industry. The chemical imbalance theory of mental disorders is one such example. The other big glitch in medicine is the false notion that HIV causes AIDS.