WASHINGTON - They are widely prescribed, their effectiveness has been highly praised and many people consider them to be nothing less than life-savers. But is the effectiveness of drugs used to treat depression a product of their chemistry or the patients' psychological reaction to them? The authors of a meta-analysis of 19 drug studies involving 2,318 patients conclude that it may be the latter: three-quarters of the beneficial effect of anti-depressant medications, they contend, can be ascribed to the placebo effect - the patient's belief and expectation that the pill they are taking will make them better. Furthermore, the authors say, the remaining 25 percent of the positive effect of anti-depressants may be attributable to the fact that the drugs have side effects, which inert pills do not. The article, "Listening to Prozac but Hearing Placebo: A Meta-Analysis of Antidepressant Medication" appears in the premiere issue of APA's new online journal Prevention & Treatment, followed by commentaries from other psychologists and a psychiatrist, and a response from the lead author.
The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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