Antidepressants are better than placebos | Letters

A retired psychiatrist says the drugs helped her without any side effects, while Richard Bartley highlights a study that shows they are significantly better than placebos

My experience is very different from that described by Prof John Read and colleagues, who say “antidepressant drugs are only marginally better than placebos” (Concerns over rising antidepressant use, Letters, 6 April). I have recently started antidepressants after a lifetime of priding myself, somewhat arrogantly, that I never went to the doctor or needed pills.

I developed metastatic tumours in my brain, thought to have been the cause of the anxiety and terror that developed very quickly. I was offered anxiolytics (antidepressants) and therapy, and took both. Having started the tablets, I was so much better when I saw the therapist that we agreed not to continue our sessions. The antidepressants were miraculous, It took them two and a half weeks to kick in and then I felt well. I experienced no side-effects.

I am a retired psychiatrist from Shropshire, where I worked with some brilliant and forward-thinking psychologists and nurse therapists. My worry is that such negative letters will put people off taking something that might help them.
Name and address supplied

• Prof John Read and others claim antidepressant drugs are only marginally better than placebos. A 2018 study, published in the Lancet, looked at data from 522 randomised double-blind controlled trials testing different antidepressants. Some 116,477 subjects who had been properly diagnosed with major depressive disorder were treated for at least eight weeks. The study showed antidepressants were significantly more effective than placebos.

The problem lies with GPs prescribing antidepressants for patients with low to moderate depression, or simply sadness, where an alternative approach would be more appropriate.
Richard Bartley
Henllan, Denbighshire

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