Drug or No Drug: Placebos may be more than appeasing | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Drug or No Drug: Placebos may be more than appeasing

11:54am, February 27, 2008

Antidepressant drugs such as Prozac generally fall short of providing significantly more relief to depressed patients than placebo pills do, according to a new analysis of multiple clinical trials obtained from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Antidepressants substantially outperform placebos only among extremely depressed individuals, says a team led by psychologist Irving Kirsch of the University of Hull, England. In these cases, relatively weak placebo responses, rather than any heightened reactions to antidepressants, explain the medications' superiority, the researchers hold.

"There is little evidence to support the prescription of antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments with fewer side effects have failed to provide benefit," Kirsch says.

Alternative depression treatments with demonstrated effectiveness include physical exercise, several forms of psychotherapy, and even certain self-help

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content