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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anti-depressants are no more Effective than Placebos says Newsweek (2/8/2010)

Here’s a quote from the cover article by Sharon Begley that states, in effect, that anti-depressants are no better than placebos. She bases most of her article on the work of researchers Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein. “The research had shown that antidepressants help about three quarters of people with depression who take them, a consistent finding that serves as the basis for the oft-repeated mantra "There is no question that the safety and efficacy of antidepressants rest on solid scientific evidence," as psychiatry professor Richard Friedman of Weill Cornell Medical College recently wrote in The New York Times. But ever since a seminal study in 1998, whose findings were reinforced by landmark research in The Journal of the American Medical Association last month, that evidence has come with a big asterisk. Yes, the drugs are effective, in that they lift depression in most patients. But that benefit is hardly more than what patients get when they, unknowingly and as part of a study, take a dummy pill—a placebo. As more and more scientists who study depression and the drugs that treat it are concluding, that suggests that antidepressants are basically expensive Tic Tacs…”

“The authors, psychology researchers Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein of the University of Connecticut, saw—as everyone else had—that patients did improve, often substantially, on SSRIs, tricyclics, and even MAO inhibitors, a class of antidepressants that dates from the 1950s. This improvement, demonstrated in scores of clinical trials, is the basis for the ubiquitous claim that antidepressants work. But when Kirsch compared the improvement in patients taking the drugs with the improvement in those taking dummy pills—clinical trials typically compare an experimental drug with a placebo—he saw that the difference was minuscule. Patients on a placebo improved about 75 percent as much as those on drugs. Put another way, three quarters of the benefit from antidepressants seems to be a placebo effect. "We wondered, what's going on?" recalls Kirsch, who is now at the University of Hull in England. "These are supposed to be wonder drugs and have huge effects."

Here’s the link to the full article:


I promptly fired off a Letter to the Editor of Newsweek with my opinion of the anti-depressant situation:

Here’s my letter:

Letter to the Editor: Newsweek Magazine

I’m a licensed, board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist who’s been crying in the wilderness for years over the lack of accurate information about depression. Neuroscience has all the answers for getting out of depression without drugs for anybody willing to look. Depression is not a brain disease. It’s an agonizing neural pattern formed in the brain by chronic over-reaction to stress. The pattern can be replaced, through the brain’s neuroplasticity, by a healthier pattern.

The key to change is: the process of pain perception. All pain and depression is produced in the subcortex. There’s no pain/depression in the neocortex. Signals, that pain/depression are being produced subcortically, must go up the brain, and not only be received, but be acknowledged in the neocortex before a human being can feel any pain/depression.

That’s why hypnosis works. And why football players can even break a bone and feel no pain when concentration on their game thoughtjams acknowledgment, in their neocortex, that pain’s being produced in their subcortex. One can “brainswitch” out of depression the same way.

Depression diagnoses are being more and more discredited. Drug companies, doctors, and maybe even the new DSM V will one day go on trial like tobacco companies, and be forced to defend their diagnoses with actual medical evidence. These diagnoses have never been based upon medical evidence. As far as I’m concerned, let the lawsuits begin!

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