Antidepressants have been found to have very little effect when compared to an active placebo—a placebo which causes dry mouth so that neither the patients nor the researchers can guess who is getting the real drug—notes Prof. Peter Gøtzsche, MD.
He notes that the effect of the real antidepressants—tricyclic antidepressants in these trials—found a difference of only 1.3 points on the Hamilton Depression Scale, but the smallest effect that can be perceived is 5-6 points.
[Note: Studies show that serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSIR’s) are no more effective than tricyclic antidepressants.]
[For example, a meta-analysis published in 2000 which compared the efficacy of these two classes of drugs concluded that “There is no overall difference in efficacy between SSRIs and TCAs [tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline].”]
Patients improve by the same amount naturally within a few days
Dr. Gøtzsche also notes that other antidepressant studies have found that it only takes a few days longer for the placebo group to improve by 1.3 points on the Hamilton Depression Scale which is simply the spontaneous remission of the disease.
In other words, antidepressants have very little effect and most of the improvement that people experience over time is simply the natural, spontaneous remission of the depression.
I realized this in 1994 when my mother was told to take an antidepressant for two months to see if it was going to work, followed by another antidepressant for two months, followed by another antidepressant.
At the time I thought how incredibly ineffective these drugs must be if it takes two months for them to have an effect.
Below is a quote of exactly what Dr. Gøtzsche wrote.
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