Antidepressants don’t do anything. They work as well as a placebo.
Wait, what, how? I am interested where this misconception comes from. Who installed this myth in the world? The culprit seems to be a meta-study from 2008 when 47 studies were pooled to look for the difference between placebo’s and antidepressants (AD) and their respective outcomes . They found that in mild to moderate depression there was no big difference between the two treatments. For people with more severe symptoms of depression the outcomes for AD were better than the placebo- effect.
In 2011 a different meta-analysis study found that antidepressants were more beneficial in treating mild but long term depression or persistent depressive disorder. This study didn’t convert the opinion about antidepressants.
We need to look deeper into the methodology used in the first study to debunk it.
Methodology is how the study itself is conducted; they are specific rules in place if you want your conclusion to be valid and significant.
An example of a bad methodology would be:
- My hypothesis: People who have headaches lack aspirin receptors in the brain.
- My observation and testing: People who don’t take aspirin, don’t have this lack in the brain and they don’t have a headache.
- My conclusion: Headaches are the result of a lack of aspirin.
Reading this example, do you feel something isn’t quite right with my study?
The problems in the first study seem to stem from the fact that subjects were selected and treated differently that they would be in real life. Normally researches try to keep all things the same for the two groups of subjects and there is one variable, the thing you want to research. Think about people of all different ages, men and women equally represented, all participants have the same medical condition. When testing new diabetic medicine, would you test that on people without diabetes and conclude that it doesn’t work?
In the first study subjects took AD for a period from 4 to 8 weeks. In real life people take AD much longer than that and doctors can adjust the doses to the need of the patient.
All subjects were given the same medication. In real life doctors and patients look for the best medication for them at that time. Some people have a history with certain medications or have a history of mental illness in the family; all different factors come into play while prescribing the right medication. And still finding that right medication can be a daunting task and doctors don’t find a fit a the first try. So a part of the subjects in the study will not respond to the one AD what doesn’t mean that all the possible AD will not work ever. And sadly that was the conclusion that was being installed into the world.
When you’re suffering with mental illness, please speak to a certified health professional in the field of psychiatry or psychology. Due to the internet there is a lot of information available but sometimes people who are not qualified to do so, draw conclusions that are just not right. Being right or wrong isn’t even the case here, your health needs to come first. Take care of your mental health and place it in the hands of people you really can trust. Depression can be treated, it can get better there is just not that one miracle cure. Value yourself high enough to get the treatment that is right for you.