Antidepressants Vs Placebo
Earlier this week, a close friend confided in me that his therapist has prescribed him an antidepressant to treat his mild depression. He’s had an extremely difficult year, so the news wasn’t surprising.
What did surprise me, however, was his doctor’s honesty. She explained that although the drug has been proven to relieve depression, it may just work like a placebo.
Placebos, or “sugar pills,” are compounds without any recognizable disease-fighting properties. Yet patients who take them frequently feel better!
What accounts for this phenomenon? According to Psychology Today, placebos work because the patients’ belief that they’re getting real treatments triggers their bodies’ natural pain relievers.
It’s basically a mind-over-matter effect. And among the medical community, it’s common knowledge that most antidepressants have no more effect than placebos.
In this NutritionFacts video from back in 2015, Dr. Greger explains that for mild to moderate depression, combining the published and unpublished data failed “… to show a clinically significant advantage for antidepressant medication over a sugar pill – most… of the benefits of antidepressants are due to the placebo effect.”
He goes on to say that is that 90 percent of all cases of depression are considered mild to moderate. It’s only for the 10 percent of severe cases that antidepressants “beat out sugar pills.”
Should this be a cause for concern?
Definitely, if you consider the CDC reported last month that between 2015 and 2018, more than 13 percent of adults over 18 admitted to having used an antidepressant within the previous 30 days.
That’s 13 percent of adults who benefited from the drugs’ therapeutic effects at the risk of experiencing their potentially devastating side effects, including:
long-term weight gain
Even more disturbing, Dr. Greger observes, is that about 20 percent of those taking antidepressants suffer withdrawal symptoms when they stop. The drugs also increase their chances of a relapse; other treatments (including placebos) don’t.
Real – and clinically proven – solutions for mild to moderate depression DO exist. But the drug companies can’t find a way to formulate them as pills they can sell to make even more billions of dollars.
So my friend, who’s already having a bad year, is now debating whether to take his psychiatrist’s odd advice and cure his depression with a pill that will only work if he believes it will work!
More on the real solutions next week.