A new paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that data on antidepressants was grossly manipulated. The researchers tracked all the studies, published and unpublished, on antidepressants such as prozac and paxil, to find out if outcomes affected publication.
Prior to this new paper, it appeared that antidepressants held significant advantages over placebo treatments. It was found however, that 86% of the studies that were negative were never published! This is contrasted with 94% of the positive studies being published! The researchers found that when all the results were accounted for, the drugs only held a slight benefit over placebo.
Recall the Marcia Angel, the former editor in chief at the New England Journal of Medicine quit her job and wrote a disturbing book about how drug companies misrepresent the efficacy of their products—the book is called The Truth About the Drug Companies, and I highly recommend you read it!
Here’s what you do with this data: Remember that for some people antidepressants are effective—the problem is that this population is probably only about 10% of those currently taking them. Also remember these things:
- 5-HTP, an amino acid precursor to serotonin is very effective for many people, without the side effects of the drug. It’s available in my store.
- Exercise is very important in overcoming depression. The parts of your brain that make serotonin and dopamine (whose balance is essential for healthy mood) receive a great deal of input from you cerebellum—the part of your brain that processes movement. Regular exercise “fires up” the cerebellum, and the cerebellum in turn helps stimulate healthy levels of serotonin and dopamine.
- Omega 3’s are essential for healthy brain chemistry—read more in the omega-3 article. An excellent omega-3 product is available in my store.
- Stress reduction is vitally important in overcoming and preventing depression—visit my stress reduction page for techniques, inspiration, and information.
Last, if you would like to read a scary book about side-effects of antidepressants written by a Harvard psychiatrist, check out Glenmullen’s Prozac Backlash.
Link to the study here.
Link to a write up in the New York Times here.