Depression News (1)

In the U.S. alone, 27 million people take anti-depressant medication.  This is approximately 10% of the population of teens and adults.  With numbers like that, it is not surprising that a recent study (1) received a great deal of attention from national and local news media.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania combined the results of six prior studies of Anti-Depressant Medication (ADM, specifically the drugs paroxetine and imipramine in three studies each).  From the authors of these other studies Dr Fournier and collleagues obtained the data from 718 individual adult office/clinic patients treated for at least six weeks.

They did this work because of two serious deficiencies in many previous trials.   First, some studies specifically excluded subjects who responded well to placebo (sugar pill).  Second, other studies specifically excluded subjects with mild to moderate depression, since they do not improve with ADM as much as patients with severe depression.  These two groups of patients are common and including them in the studies would have reflected more accurately the performance of ADMs in ‘real world’ practice.  It is easy to suspect that these patients were excluded from the other studies so that ADM would appear more effective.  The six studies used in Dr. Fournier’s research (1) were free of these biases.

Results of the study in my next post.

1. Fournier JC et al.  Antidepressant drug effects and depression severity: a patient-level meta-analysis.  JAMA. 303(1):47-53, 2010 Jan 6.