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What Does the Latest Meta-analysis Really Tell Us About Antidepressants

Moncrieff, J; (2018) What Does the Latest Meta-analysis Really Tell Us About Antidepressants. [Editorial comment]. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences , 27 (5) pp. 430-432. 10.1017/S2045796018000240. Green open access

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Abstract

A recent meta-analysis of antidepressant trials is the largest conducted to date. Although it claims to prove antidepressant effectiveness beyond dispute, the main outcome is response rates, which are derived from continuous data in a process that can inflate differences between groups. The standardised mean difference of 0.3 is in line with other meta-analyses that show small differences between antidepressants and placebo that are unlikely to be clinically significant. Other factors likely to exaggerate the effects are discussed, and evidence on associations between antidepressant effects and severity and outcomes of long-term treatment is considered. Clinicians need to have open discussions with patients about the limitations of antidepressant research, the lack of evidence that antidepressants correct a chemical imbalance or other brain abnormality, and the range of adverse effects and mental and physical alterations they can produce.

Type: Article
Title: What Does the Latest Meta-analysis Really Tell Us About Antidepressants
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S2045796018000240
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S2045796018000240
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Antidepressant efficacy, antidepressants, meta-analysis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10058614
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