Depression: What works? New study finds all 21 antidepressants researchers looked at work better than placebo

PHOTO: A man exhibits symptoms of depression in a stock photo dated March 9, 2015.STOCK/PA via AP
A man exhibits symptoms of depression in a stock photo dated March 9, 2015.

Depression is the leading cause of disability, with 350 million people affected worldwide.

While antidepressants have long been used, there’s been debate about how well they work.

In a new study published in The Lancet, researchers trying to settle the matter found that all 21 antidepressants that they looked at work better than placebo.

The researchers did a meta-analysis where they comprehensively reviewed past studies.

Among the 28,552 studies that they looked at, only 522 were rigorous enough to be included – that’s a total of 116,477 participants treated with 21 different antidepressants.

PHOTO: An antidepressant pill is held in a stock image taken in Bucharest on April 19, 2013.STOCK/Reuters
An antidepressant pill is held in a stock image taken in Bucharest on April 19, 2013.

In addition to finding that all the antidepressants included were more effective than placebo, they compared antidepressants to see whether some worked better than others, and whether people could tolerate the side effects of some more than others.

They noted that some drugs, like Remeron (mirtazapine) and Lexapro (escitalopram), appear to be more effective and tolerable for the average patient.

However, researchers warn that what works well for one patient doesn’t always work well for another – and that antidepressants take a few weeks to begin working in most patients.

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