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J of Clinical Psychiatry: Study shows pacebo outperforms SSRI or talk therapy in treating depression

December 22, 2011

Practitioners of psychodynamic and other depth-psychology modalities often rue the fact that they do not conduct enough clinical research – read randomised control trials – to provide the "evidence base" to demonstrate our usefulness within the NHS and other public health forums.

A study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry which demonstrates how RCTs can produce nonsense results and are by no means to be trusted as the sole way to evaluate psychological therapies.

(Reuters Health) – Neither antidepressants nor "talk therapy" were able to outperform inactive placebo pills in a new clinical trial on depression treatment — though there were hints that the effects varied based on people’s sex and race, researchers report.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, add to evidence that people receiving "real" depression treatment in studies — from antidepressants to St. John’s wort — often do no better than people given a placebo.

A recent review found that a minority of antidepressant users even fared worse than placebo users.

In this latest study, researchers randomly assigned 156 depression patients to either take the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft and other brands) daily for 16 weeks; undergo a form of psychotherapy called supportive-expressive therapy (twice a week for four weeks, then weekly for 12 weeks); or be in a placebo group given inactive pills.

After 16 weeks, there were no overall differences in how the three groups fared.http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/21/us-antidepressant-idUSTRE7BK1ZU20111221

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