Placebo Effect – not antidepressants – responsible for depression improvement

This report by Peter Simons has been published by Mad in the UK. It begins:

“In a study of fluoxetine (Prozac) for adolescents, researchers found that the placebo effect predicted good outcomes, but the actual drug treatment did not. After accounting for ‘treatment guess’ (those who figured out that they were receiving an intervention rather than placebo), the drug was not effective in depression treatment.

In fact, those who received a placebo but thought they received Prozac improved more than those who received the drug and knew it.

‘Treatment guesses strongly predicted outcomes and may have led to the exaggeration of drug effectiveness in the absence of actual effects,’ the researchers write.

That is, the researchers write that the drug is not actually effective in depression treatment (‘the absence of actual effects’) but is perceived to be effective by the researchers because the results were contaminated by the placebo effect.

This finding is similar to another recent finding, which referred to the placebo effect as ‘subjective beliefs.’ In that article, researchers found that in three different studies of neuromodulation for depression, participants’ beliefs that they would improve after using the devices was a significant predictor of outcome, but the actual use of the devices was not, compared to placebo. (In a fourth study, belief was a significant predictor of outcome, but so was the actual treatment.) …”

You can read more from here.

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