Are Antidepressants Really Effective?

Antidepressants may not only be less effective than previously thought, but may also be becoming more ineffective as time goes on, according to a study from the Medical Journal of Australia [1].  Despite prescriptions for antidepressant medication becoming much more common (the paper citing a literal doubling of the amount), our understanding of their effectiveness (or lack thereof) has trailed behind. The authors point to increasing effectiveness of placebos versus traditional medications, and discuss the under-utilization of psychotherapy in combating these systemic issues.

Though they maintain that these medications still have an important role in the treatment of serious depressive episodes, they also state flatly that “[w]hen medications are prescribed, they should be used in a way that maximises their chance of effectiveness.” It’s evident here that this is not the case. The pharmaceutical industry profits heavily off the usage of barely effective medications. Brand name drugs like Paxil, which have been shown time [2] and time again [3] to have limited medical usage at best, are consistently thrown at patients.

When it comes to emotional issues, it’s strange that we have such a “medicate first, therapy later” approach. Cognitive behavioural therapy, and other forms of advanced psychotherapy, actually have shown great success [4]. As America’s National Institute of Mental Health puts it:

Many studies have shown that CBT is a particularly effective treatment for depression, especially minor or moderate depression. Some people with depression may be successfully treated with CBT only. Others may need both CBT and medication. CBT helps people with depression restructure negative thought patterns. Doing so helps people interpret their environment and interactions with others in a positive and realistic way. It may also help a person recognize things that may be contributing to the depression and help him or her change behaviors that may be making the depression worse.

For more about research, give the original paper a look over here. Or, for more interesting news about emotional health, check out one of these great articles!

[1]Medical Journal of Australia
[2]CBS News
[3]Mental Health Daily
[4]National Institute of Mental Health
[Original Image]PixaBay

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