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Are you depressed? Pill popping won’t help

Are you depressed? Pill popping won’t help

Depression patients get better when they take placebos instead of drugs, say scientists.

New York: The pill popping depressive might find that they do little to ease his condition, unless he is in a very severe state of depression.

For instance, "new generation" antidepressants like Prozac, prescribed for clinical depression, do not help the majority of morose people, according to a study published in PloS Medicine.

Irving Kirsch of the University of Hull and his colleagues probed the problem closely, looking at whether a patient's response to antidepressant therapy depends on how badly depressed he or she is to start with.

Kirsch and colleagues used "meta-analysis", where they assembled data on clinical benefits from all the trials submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for four drugs including Prozac, Effexor, Serzone and Seroxat.

Researchers found that improvement in depression among patients receiving the trial drug, as compared to those receiving placebos, was not significant in the mildly depressed or even in most patients who suffer from severe depression.

Kirsch, summarising the paper, said, “Although patients get better when they take antidepressants, they also get better when they take a placebo. This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments."

first published:February 26, 2008, 13:28 IST