Depressing News: Antidepressants are not Always Effective

What is depression? Depression is a medical condition which affects a person’s emotional and physical states. It is something that can be dangerous and deadly. Some common symptoms of depression are feeling hopeless, fatigue, difficulty with concentration, change of appetite, and there are many more.  Depression or mental illness often has a stigma surrounding it. However, depression is very common and antidepressant medication is often prescribed. Here is a quick video explaining what depression is:

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The Science of Depression
Credit: Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown

Recently, there has been reports  that pharmaceutical companies have been “selectively publishing” clinical data from their clinical trials of antidepressants. However, it is fundamental that findings from evidence-based medicine are unbiased and complete,  otherwise the effectiveness of any drugs become unrealistic. Through selectively publishing, companies have deceived many people to believe that antidepressants do more than the drug actually does by only publishing the studies with positive outcomes.

Currently, the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications increase the levels of serotonin and they are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). In recent literature, the usefulness of the SSRI antidepressants have been disputed that they are only as effective as the placebos given during the clinical trials for treating minor depression.

SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin which in theory will improve mood. Credit: Thomas Splettstoesser

SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin which in theory will improve mood. Credit: Thomas Splettstoesser

Moreover, in The New England Journal of Medicine, a group of researchers reviewed the studies of 12 antidepressant drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and they found that studies with negative or questionable outcomes were not published. They discovered that in published literature, the public is provided information that shows only the positives of the medication.  For example, if the public is informed that 94% of trials conducted had positive outcomes, then in reality only about 51% had positive outcomes.  These numbers arose out of analyses of both published and unpublished clinical trials.

Through further studies by other researchers, it was discovered that in 2012 GlaxoSmithKline was fined $3 billion for “selectively publishing” and fraudulently promoting drugs, including drugs for mental illness such as Aropax. They admitted that they promoted the use of an unproven antidepressant.

Those affected with depression should first turn towards natural treatments, many of which that can be easily found on reliable sites on the internet.  There are many self-help websites that can aid a person coping with depression and it is vital that these people get the support they need.  Here is a video that shows the perspective of a person suffering depression:

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What It’s Like Living with Depression
Credit: BuzzFeedYellow

– Maureen Lai

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