Scientists today revealed a study that looked at many other studies including some that, under extremely dubious auspices, have never been published before. What did they find exactly? That antidepressants like Prozac and Citalopram don’t work any better than a placebo pill (normally a sugar pill; always with absolutely no medical value).
That leaves a lot of people with red faces. The drug companies have been pushing these pills for decades with very thorough marketing campaigns. Doctors have bee prescribing them as if they are going out of fashion and online pharmacies have been flogging them to anyone who will pay. What’s worse is that clinical guidance bodies, such as NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) in the UK and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the USA have listed SSRI’s as at least an important part of the treatment of choice for anxiety, depression, panic disorder and GAD etc for years. They now would seem to have egg on their faces.
But what of the most important people in all of this? The patient? Well, firstly the advice has to be don’t do anything rash. Even if these pills have no medical value stopping them cold turkey can be very dangerous and very unpleasant. Don’t make any changes until you have spoken to your doctor.
The second thing is to remember science is always wrong! And I don’t mean to sound like one of those terrible pop-psychologists on US TV and just claim my theories are correct. What I am saying is that scientific research has been mixed over the years. Some studies have been good and some studies have been bad. Many people, and I include myself in this category, have been helped immensely by taking SSRI antidepressants (or at least we think we have, which more or less amounts to the same thing!). My personal feeling is that when taking antidepressants my sleep improved immensely, and I was much less anxious in situations that used to provoke anxiety and in daily life. If a placebo pill can do that with no side effects then great, buy I suspect it can’t. I believe that antidepressants don’t work for plenty of people, but do work for some, and can be well worth a trial. Remembering of course that they are not a long term solution.