Scientists say they have settled one of medicine's biggest debates after a huge study found that anti-depressants work. The study, which analysed data from 522 trials involving 116,477 people, found 21 common anti-depressants were all more effective at reducing symptoms of acute depression than dummy pills. But it also showed big differences in how effective each drug is.
[T]he study found they ranged from being a third more effective than a placebo to more than twice as effective. Lead researcher Dr Andrea Cipriani, from the University of Oxford, told the BBC: "This study is the final answer to a long-standing controversy about whether anti-depressants work for depression.
The study's authors said the findings could help doctors to pick the right prescription, but it did not mean everyone should be switching medications.
That is because the study looked at the average effect of drugs rather than how they worked for individuals of different ages or gender, the severity of symptoms and other characteristics.
Researchers added that most of the data in the meta-analysis covered eight weeks of treatment, so the findings might not apply to longer-term use.
"Importantly, the paper analyses unpublished data held by pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the funding of studies by these companies does not influence the result, thus confirming that the clinical usefulness of these drugs is not affected by pharma-sponsored spin." [said professor Carmine Pariante].
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