The drugs do work…for some people, some of the time!

A six year study published its findings in the Lancet 21 February. 

‘Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis’

The study was carried out by a team of international experts who looked at results after eight weeks of more than 500 trials involving either a drug versus placebo or comparing two different medicines.

Dr Joanna Moncrieff and Dr Hugh Middleton published their response to the Guardian article ‘The drugs do work:antidepressants are effective, study shows’ 24 February. This along with many other articles and social media activity has surfaced a debate that is often avoided.

When undertaking a project on ‘Improving the physical health of people diagnosed with serious mental illnesses’ a couple of years ago we were initially asked not to include discussion about medication. Of course, this was a ‘hot topic’ with participants and it was not ignored.

As many of the responses have highlighted it is complex and layered. NSUN trustee Alisdair Cameron reflected that ‘some anti-depressants work for some types of depression for some people in some circumstances’.

We’ve always known that some anti-depressants work for some people. This doesn’t mean that the whole medical model should feel validated or justified‘, added Stephanie Taylor King (NSUN Communications). 

What is worrying is that the lay person reads the reports and believes that anti-depressants are now confirmed as the go-to treatment for depression.  We know that long term use of anti-depressants can have serious consequences so prescribing and reviewing practices also need to be considered when we’re looking at efficacy.