I probably find this more interesting than most of you, but I wanted to call attention to this article in the New York Times by Judith Warner on antidepressants. This week a study on Paxil and imipramine said the antidepressants worked no better than a placebo on people with mild or moderate depression. Lots of studies have said this. However,
Antidepressants do work for very severely depressed people, as well as for those whose mild depression is chronic. However, the researchers found, the pills donâ€™t work for people who arenâ€™t really depressed â€” people with short-term, minor depression whose problems tend to get better on their own.
There is a regular cult of people trying to get antidepressants banned because they believe them to be dangerous and fake and just a scam for the pharmaceutical industry to make money. And one of the arguments I hear is about all the studies that allegedly have shown they don’t work any better than placebos.
Warner goes on to document that, in America, people with clinical depression are more likely to be undertreated than overtreated.
This is the big picture of mental health care in America: not perfectly healthy people popping pills for no reason, but people with real illnesses lacking access to care; facing barriers like ignorance, stigma and high prices; or finding care that is ineffective.