Study Casts Doubt on Anti-depressants

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A new study says some anti-depressant drugs have little or no effect on the vast majority of patients with mild cases of depression.

In the United Kingdom, psychologists from the University of Hull found that four commonly used drugs are no better than a placebo, or a dummy pill. Their findings are from a review of nearly 50 clinical trials

"The difference in improvement between patients taking placebos and patients taking anti-depressants is not very great," Professor Irving Kirsch from the university's psychology department said.

"This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments. Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients," he added.

The drugs included fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Efexor), and Paroxetine (Seroxat).

All belong to a family of drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs have become popular over the past 15 years as doctors consider them to be safer than tri-cyclic drugs that carried a high risk of overdose.

More than 100 million anti-depressant prescriptions were written last year. But experts claim many people can improve without medication and they recommend outdoor exercise.

Source: Financial Times

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