It has been found in American medical research studies that the most prescribed drug in the country, antidepressants, aren’t that entirely effective. According to researchers, they work as well as sugar pills and those who do improve are thought to only get better because of the placebo effect. “When you have samples of lower levels of depression, the benefits were very modest and even disappeared,” said Blair T. Johnsons, Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut. “My theory is that human beings are very suggestible creatures. The patient who takes these drugs then might, in believing they feel better, start to act in a way that actually makes them feel better. Consequently you have almost as big an effect for placebo as you do for drugs.”
This has created a debate on what are the most appropriate and successful therapies for depression and has questioned whether or not clinical trials are actually successful in determining their effectiveness. Drugs are given almost freely in America compared to other western countries where a series of tests and other treatments are approached to help combat depression before the pills are recommended. Over 30 million prescriptions of antidepressants are filled out each year around the world yet it’s not recommended as the first resort to combat depression. Psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways to fight depression however accessing therapists and finding the time for sessions is difficult in this modern world.
Britain has done its share of research and has concluded the same result as The University of Connecticut in America – antidepressants are as successful as placebos and make only a small difference in serious depression. “Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed to provide a benefit,” said lead researcher Professor Irving Kirsch of the University of Hull in Britain.