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Placebos Work Nearly as Well as Antidepressants

Head Aches: How Well Do Antidepressants Actually Work?

"Expensive Tic Tacs." "A triumph of marketing over science." This is what a new Newsweek article is saying about the antidepressants that over 27 million Americans take each day.

While there's plenty of evidence to show antidepressants do work, scientists and psychiatrists rarely explain another conclusion nearly every study reaches: placebos (aka fake pills) work about 75 percent as well. It presents a moral quandary to scientists and medical professionals: How do we know when it really works and when it's just the placebo effect? And if a person feels better, does it matter?

Source: Flickr User sparktography

Join The Conversation
runningesq runningesq 7 years
ugh, I hate when people immediately start chipping EXERCISE ! when it comes to depression/ anxiety. yes, it can help with mild forms of both, and it's essential to overall health, but it isn't a cure all. I used to train 15 hours a week and still ended up with panic attacks if I didn't take lexapro. As always: to each her own. we're all different, and we all have different needs when it comes to medication.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
If it helps and isn't instantly shoved down a person's throat then it's fine. I think a good diet and exercise is a great start when a person battles depression, if anything else it'll make them healthier and the doctor can administer drugs accordingly.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
My senior year of college, I started suffering short term memory loss from panic attacks and just an insane amount of anxiety. (I've had panic attacks since I was 16.) To rule out any problems, my doctor scheduled an (MRI? - whatever it is where you're in that tube listening to pings for 45 minutes). I'm claustrophobic big time, so my doctor gave me Lorazepan to keep me calm during the procedure. About 3 hours after taking it, I became so incredibly depressed - cried my eyes out and felt hopeless. Although I had an adverse reaction to it, I have to say I do believe those drugs are more than just tic-tacs and actually work. I've had paxil to treat panic attacks and pseudodysphagia and I have to say I've never slept better or felt more calm when eating (eating gives me anxiety) than when I was on that.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
The brain is incredibly complex!
imLissy imLissy 7 years
Exercise! Can only help and it's free :) works well for me.
Muirnea Muirnea 7 years
If a person feels better I don't think it matters. But just to put this out there. People can help themselves so much, 75% of the time seems like a pretty good amount to me. It would be awesome if there was a way to teach people to mentally control their problems. The placebo affect without an actual pill. People just mentally convince themselves they are feeling better. Everyone can do that to a point. Think positive and happy, it really does work. I mean hey, with or without pills, it can't hurt, b/c it obviously works over half the time. Also, to see if one particular person is just having the placebo effect or is actually being affected by medicine...all you would need to do is to switch their pills to a placebo pill and see if they still feel better. If they feel worse it was actually the medicine working, if they are the same, it's the placebo effect. Of course, not very morally right, ha.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Placebos may work for some people, and other people need to try drug after drug after drug after combination of drugs until they find one that works. Everyone is different. I've only had one personal experience with antidepressants- when I was 13 my doctor prescribed me Paxil for migraines- he said it would help regulate my brain chemicals and the headaches would go away. After about a week, I began having paranoia/panic/anxiety attacks. Once night hit, I couldn't bear to walk into a room without curtains- I was sure someone was waiting outside to see me and kill me. I once sat still for hours in the living room, afraid to move because I thought if I moved 'they' would see me and get me. I stopped taking Paxil at once and have shied away from antidepressants ever since. Support groups, therapy, and high quality pot are good enough for me (only half kidding).
chatondeneige chatondeneige 7 years
If it's a placebo effect, I'm fine with it. I'd rather pay $30/month for a placebo effect than have panic attacks, and I'm sure most people who actually suffer from depression or anxiety feel the same way.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
I don't know about anti-depressants, but I take an anxiety medication and it absolutely works. And if that's just a placebo effect, I'm fine with that. Beats panic attacks any day.
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